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Classical Notes

Pieces of Spring No. 3

Posted at 8:00 AM on May 4, 2007 by John Birge

Welcome May, and Classical Minnesota Public Radio's Pieces of Spring.

Every day, we'll play a springtime classic. Visit our online playlist to find each day's spring piece or, in the Twin Cities, listen to 99.5 every morning at 8. Enter the correct title here, and you have another chance to win fresh flowers delivered to your door for a year! Check back here every day to see if you got it right.

Yesterday's piece was "Spring," from Dominick Argento's Six Elizabethan Songs.

Although the poem “Spring, the sweet Spring” by Thomas Nashe was published in 1600, composers seem to have only recently discovered the charming lyric, with settings by Benjamin Britten and Peter Warlock, to name a few. Dominick Argento’s setting might be the best-known, at least in Canada: his “Six Elizabethan Songs” are part of the required repertoire for all Canadian music school graduates.

Spring, the sweet Spring, is the year's pleasant king;

Then blooms each thing, then maids dance in a ring,

Cold doth not sting, the pretty birds do sing,

Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!

The palm and may make country houses gay,

Lambs frisk and play, the shepherd pipes all day,

And we hear aye birds tune this merry lay,

Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!

The fields breathe sweet, the daisies kiss our feet,

Young lovers meet, old wives a-sunning sit,

In every street these tunes our ears do greet,

Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!

Spring! The sweet Spring!