Sir Roger de Coverley – A Christmas Dance by Frank Bridge
Arranged for Flute Quintet by Gudrun Hinze
Scored for 3 C Flutes (with Flute 2 and 3 doubling on Piccolo), Alto Flute and Bass Flute
Disguised behind the name “Sir Roger de Coverely” is an old Scottish dance, a spirited jig that normally served as the last and most boisterous dance of the traditional Christmas ball. Frank Bridge adopted the theme of this old dance in 1922 for his piece for string orchestra, a piece which forms the basis of this adaptation. It begins bizarrely, fragmentarily, with idiosyncratic harmonic progressions. Only over the course of the pieces does it become clear that the angular, diminutive components of the theme are assembled like a puzzle, little by little divulging its down-to-earth, dancelike character. In the dazzling variations, Bridge spurs the dance on to an ever more effervescent liveliness until, at the whirlwind conclusion of the fantastical Christmas ball, the age-old song, “Should auld acquaintence be forgot?” is heard. Auld Lang Syne (meaning something like “old long since”), one of the best-known songs in the English-speaking world, is traditionally sung as the new year is rung in, and it is masterfully interwoven into the context of this jig.
This is a delightful piece which has been championed by Quintessenz, the Leipzig Flute Ensemble, of which Gudrun is a member. They even produced a video title “Essence of Christmas” which is included below. Check it out, it is a treat!