"In December 1982 my old friend Norman Peterkin passed away in his sleep at the age of almost 96 in a Guildford hospital. For so many years he had seemed immortal that I could scarcely believe the news. At first the grief was personal, but later I realised that he had been making a significant contribution to many different aspects of British music for over sixty years and so the loss was thus more widespread. Latterly he had been known in two roles: as a "grandad" figure for the Music Department of Oxford University Press and as the composer of the song, "I heard a piper piping". He had outlived most of the contemporaries who might have remembered other facets of his life, e.g. his contributions to musical life in far flung parts of the old Empire, and his work in the 1920s with the composers’ circle in Liverpool.
To begin with his own compositions were written in a style similar to that of Grieg, but he was open to all the contemporary influences in music and literature – to Debussy and Delius and to Yeats and Maeterlinck. Another significant influence was the music of Cyril Scott, whose First Piano Sonata of 1909 made a great impression on the young Peterkin and was to remain a favourite with him.
History will give Norman Peterkin an unusual position in the hierarchy of twentieth century British music and musicians. For some of his songs he will be known as a subtle, imaginative composer of considerable distinction. As a publisher he will always be associated with Hubert Foss, but as one who was known as a poet in music and a musician in publishing he will have a niche all his own."
Lyrita Recorded Edition is one of the UK’s longest established and highest regarded independent Classical record labels. Lyrita has an unparalleled reputation for recording specifically British repertoire at the highest audio standards. For 50 years Lyrita has produced recordings acclaimed by critics, collectors and audiophiles alike.
Simon Heffer, The Daily Telegraph "From the 1960s to the 1990s, those with a taste for obscure English classical composers, or for the obscure works of the well-known ones, needed only one port of call: Lyrita Records. For aficionados of the English canon the re-issue of this material is one of the great events in our musical history. It is like coming across long-buried treasure, and represents perhaps the finest exhibition our music has ever had."
Norman Peterkin - A Discovery in Song 5 stars - Amazon
Norman Peterkin (1886-1982) was a Liverpudlian who worked in the music industry, and was probably best-known for his association with Hubert Foss, the editor of the Music Department at Oxford University Press in the 1920s and 1930s. Peterkin had also worked for other publishing houses, including some in the Far East, notably Singapore. What is not so well known is that he himself was a composer of no little merit, focusing largely on piano music and songs, although he produced several orchestral scores, none of which we seem to hear today. However, thanks to this Lyrita recording, we can now at least have a chance to sample some of his songs.
Since Peterkin was a contemporary of Delius, Warlock and Van Dieren, he had something to live up to. Delius, in fact, was one of his chief influences early on, as is evident from the chromaticism found in his accompaniments. Other influences include Grieg and Cyril Scott. So, in a sense, he was somewhat associated with the Delius-Warlock circle without being intimately acquainted with any of these composers.
Peterkin's choice of texts for the songs on this recording include medieval Oriental poets, Celtic-inspired poets (Fiona Macleod, Padraic Colum, Seosmh MacCathmhaoil), and Walter De La Mare. There is even a setting (perhaps following Elgar's example) of a poem by his wife ('A Little Wind Came Blowing'). Moods range from the whimsical ('The Bees' Song'), through black comedy ('Dubbuldideery'), to the wistful beauty of 'My Fidil is Singing' and 'The Song of Fionula'. While the chosen texts do not exhibit any earth-shattering profundity, they do have atmosphere, conjuring up misty Oriental or Irish landscapes and other-worldly creatures, and Peterkin's ear for melody never fails him - at least on the evidence of these songs.
1 My Fidil is Singing
2 The Song of Fionula
3 Five Poems from the Japanese
4 All Suddenly The Wind Comes Soft
5 Pierette in Memory
6 O Men from the Fields
7 The Garden of Bamboos
8 Advice to Girls
9 Never More, Sailor
10 Little Red Hen - Irish Folk Tale
11 A Little Wind Came Blowing
12 Sleep, White Love
13 The Chaste Wife's Reply
14 Hours of Idleness
15 I Wish and I Wish
16 The Song of the Secret
17 The Fiddler
18 If I be Living in Eirinn
20 Song of the Water Maiden
21 So, Well Go No More A-Roving
22 I heard aA Piper Piping
23 Rune of the Burden of the Tide
24 The Bee's Song
25 The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls
26 Beata Solitudo
Songs of Norman Peterkin
I am so excited at presenting this Lyrita recording of Norman Peterkin songs. He is a virtually unknown composer and it has been a wonderful journey of discovery. The music is a mixture of lyrical, almost folk-like tunes and complex songs that explore the deeper meaning of the words.
Exbury Estate Office
Hampshire SO45 1AZ