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Jane Austen Entertains

Jane Austen Entertains

Ref: CDG1187

21 tracks 68 min
Click here to preview trk 12

Music from her own library

'Aunt Jane began her day with music...much that she played from was manuscript, copied out by herself…' Her manuscripts survive, and this programme is drawn from them: a mixture of the light and fashionable music of the day for flute, voice and piano, recorded in her home at Chawton in Hampshire.

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Jane Austen Entertains
Music from her own library

'Aunt Jane began her day with music...much that she played from was manuscript, copied out by herself…' Her manuscripts survive, and this programme is drawn from them: a mixture of the light and fashionable music of the day for flute, voice and piano, recorded in her home at Chawton in Hampshire.

1 Flute: The Yellow Hair'd Laddie
2 Song: Hooly & Fairly
3 Song: Waly, Waly

Ignace Pleyel (1757-1831)
Sonatina No 5 in G major for pianoforte solo
4 Adagio non troppo
5 Un poco piu moto
6 Rondo Allegro

7 Flute: The Egyptian Love Song
8 Song: Betsy Bell & Mary Gray
9 Song: Polwart on the Green
10 Flute: For Tenderness form'd in Life's early day

Johann Sterkel (1750-1817)
Sonata No. 2 in G major for flute and pianoforte
11 Allegro con brio
12 Rondo Andante

13 Song: The Last Time I Came O'erSong: The Banks of Forth
14 Song: The Banks of ForthSong: Katharine Ogie
15 Song: Katharine Ogie

Ignace Pleyel
Sonatina No. 10 in B flat major for pianoforte solo
16 Andante Grazioso
17 Menuetto Allegretto

18 Song: My deary, if thou die

Ignace Pleyel
Sonata No. 4 in A major for flute and pianoforte
19 [Allegro]
20 Andante
21 Rondo Allegro assai

Miss Sara Stowe, soprano
Miss Jenny Thomas, German flute
Dr Martin Souter, pianoforte

With special thanks to Tom Carpenter
and The Jane Austen Memorial Trust

Cover image: The Duet George Goodwin Kilburne (1839-1924) Fine Art Photographic Library
P & C 2001 Classical Communications Ltd
Made in Great Britain

Aunt Jane began her day with music - for which I conclude she had a natural taste; as she thus kept it up - 'tho she had no one to teach; was never induced (as I have heard) to play in company; and none of her family cared much for it. I suppose, that she might not trouble them, she chose her practicing time before breakfast - when she could have the room to herself - She practiced regularly every morning - She played very pretty tunes, I thought - and I liked to stand by her and listen to them; but the music (for I knew the books well in after years) would now be thought disgracefully easy - Much that she played from was manuscript, copied out by herself - and so neatly and correctly, that it was as easy to read as print.

From the Memoirs of Jane Austen's niece Caroline, 1867

In Jane Austen's day music was an essential part of a lady's education. Men may have taken part in music making, but they generally seem to have kept quiet about it. Certainly, taking Jane's novels as a guide to a certain stratum of society of the period, a man's musical function was primarily as a willing and receptive listener to feminine talents at the keyboard or in song: in a drawing room scene at Mansfield Park, Mary Crawford 'tripped off to the instrument, leaving Edmund looking after her in an ecstasy of admiration of all her many virtues'. Jane Austen wrote about what she knew - events from her own life and of her circle of family and friends are transformed into fiction and into penetrating observations of the manners and society of her time. Thus in Mansfield Park the Bertram sisters are able musicians, trained in music, no doubt at vast expense, while Fanny Price, despite possessing a greater sensitivity and shrewdness which would have possibly made a real musician of her, was denied a musical education because of her impoverished background.

Jane Austen was the main musician in her family circle. Indeed, she may have been the only musician. It seems that she was called on as often as any to perform dances and songs for nephews, nieces and other family members. As a schoolgirl and young woman she studied with Dr Chard, organist at Winchester cathedral. Chard was obviously a good musician, a singer and keyboard player, and Jane took lessons from him for several years. She practiced the piano every morning. In her later years this may have been the only time of solitude allowed her, and it is nice to think of music from the collection of manuscript volumes, which are now in her house in Chawton, resting open on the piano, (as in our cover illustration) ready for Jane to play.

The Jane Austen Memorial Trust holds eight volumes of music at her house in Chawton. Three books are entirely in manuscript - hand written, on pre-ruled music paper bought from London dealers. The second two of these three are mainly in the hand of Jane Austen herself. This hand has been identified by T.F. Carpenter, the present curator of the house. The other five volumes consist of printed music and a few manuscript scraps bound together into separate volumes. The musical content of these volumes is varied. Songs, keyboard works (both solo and duet) and chamber music from the core of the collection and a drawn from a variety of sources. The contents are typical of domestic music-making of the period - and consequently include hardly any music by composers famous today. In Jane Austen's day, Pleyel and Sterkel were more famous than Haydn and Mozart, their music often more accessible via successful printing and distribution businesses than those of their more talented colleagues with their high-powered court appointments and operatic commissions. The songs in the collection form an interesting group, varying from witty, observational songs to simplified arrangements of operatic arias, plus a large collection of Scottish songs published in Edinburgh in the late eighteenth century. The songs on this recording are taken from this last collection - beautiful tunes with simple accompaniments, with words often written out in dialect. We have attempted to reproduce these songs as we imagine they may have been sung in Hampshire in the 1800s rather than up in the Scottish glens.

The recording took place in the drawing room at Chawton, so we can be confident that the effect of the music, using a piano similar to the one that Jane owned, cannot be so different from that experienced by Jane and her family themselves. We hope that you enjoy listening - and that, if you have not already done so, you will be prompted to visit Jane Austen's house in Chawton and see and hear for yourself where the great authoress lived, worked and made music.

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