From the Land of Song
Cello and piano
Winner, 2010 NINNAU & Y Drych Eisteddfod
Recorded by Christine Thomas Tsen
- Pant Corlan yr Wyn (Let Now the Harp)
- Tros y Garreg (Over the Stone)
- Yn Nyffryn Clwyd (The Missing Boat)
- Ar hyd y nos (All Through the Night)
- Dwfn Yw’r môr (Well I Know This Lovely Place)
Cellist Christine Tsen dreamed of a suite of folk songs from Wales—often called the “Land of Song”—for the cello, piano combination. She sent me a list of favorite tunes; I chose five that make a little journey through the repertoire, as well as a display piece for her talents. The result is From the Land of Song (O Gwlad y Gân). It was the least a brother could do. The songs are played without pause.
Approaching as if from a distance, the cheerful “Let Now the Harp” is answered by its inverted form, which foreshadows the well-known “All Through the Night,” and the two dialogue in sonata style. “Over the Stone” recalls Fauré in its siciliana setting. “The Missing Boat” has special significance. Our great-great-grandfather, John Thomas of Aberaeron, Wales, captained the clipper-built schooner Clifton, which ran aground on Bideford Bar in a storm on December 3, 1859, drowning him with three of his crew. His son, Thomas Bennett Thomas, subsequently emigrated to the U.S., founding the American branch of the Thomas family. While “All Through the Night” needs no introduction, note that its incipit is shared by “Well I Know This Lovely Place,” making a smooth bridge to the finale. The augmented form of that last tune develops in a Schumannesque manner, leading to a virtuosic coda.
David Evan Thomas has been honored with two McKnight Foundation Artist Fellowships, an Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and commissions from the Minnesota Orchestra and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Born in Rochester, New York in 1958, Thomas studied at Northwestern University, Eastman School of Music, and with Dominick Argento at the University of Minnesota. His music is published by ECS, MorningStar, Augsburg Fortress and several other publishers. Thomas lives in Minneapolis.
From the Land of Song received First Prize (The Myfanwy Bajaj Prize) in the 2010 Ninnau and Y Drych Music Eisteddfod. It’s one of several works Thomas has written on Welsh themes, including Diadem for solo harp (Adlais), Three Welsh Folk Songs (ALRY) and Preludes on Welsh Tunes (Augsburg Fortress).