6. The Mignonette.
These songs are purely lyrical and are quite delightful examples of MacDowell’s work in this form, which he was to afterwards uphold as a beautiful medium for song writing. They are not quite of his very best output, but make charming solo numbers and are free from vocal emotionalism. Many flower songs of other composers are harnessed to highly emotional subjects and tend to become love-songs, MacDowell’s songs are a welcome relief in their purely lyrical outlook. It will be noticed that the titles of the songs in this group are all of the simple type of flowers such as he loved, the gaudy, heavy and carefully cultivated blossoms being conspicuous by their absence. It will serve no purpose here to suggest which of the songs is the best, for each has its own particular charm and it is more a matter of taste and fancy than judgment as to which are the favourites.
OPUS 27. THREE PART-SONGS, FOR MALE CHORUS.
Composed, Wiesbaden, 1887. First Published, 1890 (Arthur P. Schmidt).
1. In the Starry Sky Above Us.
3. The Fisher-boy.
These are spirited and well written part-songs. They contain expressive matter and make good and contrasting numbers for male-voice choirs. The fact that they savour of the influence of the German romantic school does not detract from their general merit, although they are not truly MacDowell-like.
OPUS 28. SIX LITTLE PIECES, IDYLS (AFTER GOETHE), FOR PIANOFORTE.
Composed, Wiesbaden, 1887. First Published, 1887 (J. Hainauer. Revised Edition—Arthur P. Schmidt. British Empire—Winthrop Rogers, Ltd.).
1. In the Woods.
3. To the Moonlight.
4. Silver Clouds.
5. Flute Idyl.
6. The Bluebell.
These pieces were suggested to the composer by lines by the German poet, Goethe. The music attempts to suggest the various scenes indicated by the verses quoted at the head of each piece. It is an advance on the preceding small pieces for pianoforte, and foreshadows the later MacDowell of inimitable poetic suggestion in music. The whole set was later revised by the composer in his mature period, and in this form they are acceptable, but even now not satisfying to those who are acquainted with his greater work.
Commenced, Wiesbaden, 1888. Completed, Boston, Winter, 1888-9. First Published, 1908 (Posthumously) (Arthur P. Schmidt). Dedicated to Henry T. Finck.
MacDowell refrained from publishing this work because he had been unable to try it over in America with an orchestra, as he had been able to do in Germany with his earlier symphonic works, and he was not altogether certain of its effect. He, however, published his two later suites for orchestra, Ops. 42 and 48, with confidence.