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Ian Venables

Publisher: Novello & Co

Flying Crooked Op 28/1 (1998)
Text Writer
Robert Graves
Novello & Co Ltd
Solo Voices and 1-6 players
Year Composed
1 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
High Voice
Alternate Orchestration
Baritone; Piano

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Programme Note
Ian Venables Flying Crooked Op 28/1 (1998)
Two Songs Op 28

i. Flying Crooked
ii. At Midnight

The two songs opus 28 are examples of Ian Venables' ultra-refined sensibility, contrasting the harmonic subtleties and ambiguities of his setting of Robert Graves' poem 'Flying Crooked' with the dream-like atmosphere of one of Edna St.Vincent Millay's many sonnets.

Flying Crooked is a witty interpretation of a poem that describes the haphazard flight patterns of the most ubiquitous of butterflies, the cabbage-white. Lasting just over a minute, its pointillistic and harmonically ambiguous piano writing contrasts the effortless diatonicism of the vocal line, creating a whimsical, if not irreverent setting. The poem was sent to the composer by Lady Bliss, to whom the song is dedicated and at whose home it received its first private performance.

This work has been recorded by Nathan Vale and Paul Plummer on SOMM CD 063, and by Andrew Kennedy and the Dante quartet in an arrangement by Graham J Lloyd on Signum.

  • Soloist(s)
    Roderick Williams (baritone), Susie Allan (piano)
    SOMM Recordings:
  • Soloist(s)
    Nathan Vale (tenor), Paul Plummer (piano)
    SOMM Recordings:
  • Soloist(s)
    Andrew Kennedy, tenor; Richard Hosford, clarinet; Iain Burnside, piano
[Venables’] approachable harmonic language suited the acceptance of loos inherent in Dowson’s famous lines “they are not long, the days of wine and roses”, and the painful longing of Edna St Vincent Millay’s At Midnight. Against these serious piece the lightness and wit of Robert Graves’ Flying Crooked (with a wonderful roulade on the word ‘aerobatic’!) showed Venables’ versatility.
John Gough, Birmingham Post,02/10/2007
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