Love Song for mezzo-soprano and piano or harp, 1976, 5'

- version for mezzo-soprano, harp (or piano) and string orchestra, 1991, 5'

Love song /excerpt/

Performers: Heather Shipp - mezzo-soprano, Helen Tunnstall - harp, London Musici, Marc Stephenson - conductor; 2001 Music Music 

Love songLove song

Both Love Song, written in 1976, and Dreamscape, written one year later, for voice and piano grew from Camilla and Andrzej Panufnik’s acquaintance with the English composer and pianist Peter Dickinson and his sister Meriel Dickinson, a singer with a warm mezzo-soprano. It was her request that prompted the composer to write the Love Song to words by the English poet Sir Philip Sidney.

In this simple composition Panufnik came closest to the classical stanzaic form, using two verses of a poem. The most important is the first, four-bar phrase, featuring the words ‘My true love hath my heart’, which recurs several times, always with the same melodic line, beginning, however, with a different note on each occasion. The gentle melodic line of the voice is combined with a simple piano accompaniment, which is to emphasise the text. Sometimes the song is performed in a version for voice and harp instead of piano.

Panufnik returned to the Love Song in the last few weeks of his life to arrange it for mezzo-soprano, harp (or piano) and string orchestra, at the request of the conductor Mark Stephenson. This was his last work as a composer.

This version was premiered after the composer’s death, on 28 November 1991 in London, with the London Musici orchestra conducted by Mark Stephenson, Meriel Dickinson as the vocal soloist and Marisa Robles on the harp. 

The original version was heard for the first time in a performance featuring Meriel and Peter Dickinson, on 12 December 1977 in London.