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Britten, Benjamin: Song: We are the darkness in the heat of the day (1956) 2'
for five-part mixed choir a cappella

Music Text

Edith Sitwell (E)

Abbreviations (PDF)


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Repertoire Note

Choral level of difficulty: Level 1-2 (5 greatest)

This short unaccompanied setting formed part of a programme of Edith Sitwell’s verse put together for the Aldeburgh Festival in 1956. Britten had set her words to music in his Canticle III ‘Still Falls the Rain. After the performance Imogen Holst suggested to Britten that he might consider the setting of We are the darkness in the heat of the day as a separate piece. She prepared the score for her Purcell Singers but it was never performed in Britten’s lifetime.

The short song is almost madrigalian in character, entirely homophonic (chordal) and leading to a beautiful and gentle conclusion. This is another of Britten’s rarities which would add interest to a concert programme featuring his music or even recreating the spirit of that Aldeburgh programme around the poetry of Edith Sitwell – and perhaps others.

Repertoire note by Paul Spicer

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