Fair Springtide (Very slow, with pathos). This is one of the best and most mature of MacDowell’s songs. It makes a lovely solo, full of sweet and tender sadness, seldom failing to move its hearers. Both as regards words and music, it comes straight from the soul of its composer.
To the Golden-rod (With tender grace). This is a pure and delectable piece of lyrical work, in MacDowell’s most delightful style. The verse tells of a lissom maid whose wayward grace neither sturdy Autumn nor the frown of Winter can ever efface. The words are obviously fanciful, but the song has a graceful charm and fragrance.
OPUS 61. FIRESIDE TALES, FOR PIANOFORTE.
First Published, 1902 (Arthur P. Schmidt).
Dedicated to Mrs. Seth Low.
1. An Old Love Story.
2. Of Br’er Rabbit.
3. Of Salamanders.
4. A Haunted House.
5. By Smouldering Embers.
These pieces show a significant change in the voice of MacDowell. A certain strange, farawayness of thought is apparent, and a grave tenderness that is not quite like anything he had previously written. The fine beauty of the previous short pieces here gives way to a new kind of serious and even sombre aspect, and indeed the composer seems to have entered on a new period. Unfortunately the next work after these Fireside Tales is the last music he published, and so the certainty of the commencement of a new period cannot definitely be established. The writing is much more masterly than in any of the earlier short pieces, including the Sea Pieces, even though these have greater spirit.
1. An Old Love Story (Simply and tenderly). This opens with the familiar flowing type of MacDowell melody, but with the succeeding section in D flat major, marked ppp, comes in a new and earnest expressiveness. After this the opening theme returns and the piece ends tenderly and subdued. An Old Love Story is, on the whole, quite characteristic, and certainly very beautiful. It seems to bring with it an atmosphere of fading, but still cherished, bygone happiness, and its thought is tender and wistful.
2. Of Br’er Rabbit (With much spirit and humour—lightly). This opens with a roguish and catching tune which is brilliantly worked out with much variety, droll humour, and masterly skill. The piece has, of course, an affinity with From Uncle Remus (Woodland Sketches, Op. 51), since Br’er Rabbit is Uncle Remus’ chief hero; but the maturity and masterly handling of the material in Of Br’er Rabbit is unquestionably finer than anything in the earlier piece. MacDowell had much affection for his Br’er Rabbit creation, and it is certainly one of the most delightful of all his brighter compositions; the humour is so droll and so characteristic of himself.