1. An Eating Song Deems Taylor
2. Prelude (piano)
3. Poem (piano)
4. The Messenger James Stephens
5. A Song for Lovers James Stephens
6. The Rivals James Stephens
7. Spring in Town Charles Hanson Towne
8. Poor Charles Hanson Towne
9. But Happy Charles Hanson Towne
10. The Roof Garden Charles Hanson Towne
11. Home Charles Hanson Towne
12. The Smugglers (piano)
13. Captain Stratton’s Fancy John Masefield
14. Plantation Love Song Ruth McEnery Stuart
An Eating Song – this track is notable because Deems wrote the words as well as the music. It is a gentle satire on the traditional “Drinking Song”, but devotes itself instead to the joys of eating.
Two Studies in Rhythm – two short piano pieces written in 1918. Prelude is written in 7/8 time, Poem in 5/8.
Three Songs - settings of poems by James Stephens, most famous for his children’s book The Crock of Gold
The Smugglers – you can almost see them sneaking past the border guards in this atmospheric piano piece, suitable for students.
Captain Stratton’s Fancy – a pirate song, and a drinking song, based on a poem by John Masefield. Performed by Nelson Eddy on the radio in 1937..
City of Joy – these 5 songs, with lyrics by Charles Hanson Towne – a prolific author known as the quintessential New Yorker paint a carefree picture of young lovers enjoying life in the city
Plantation Love Song – a pastoral piece with lyrics by Ruth McEnery Stuart, who was among the best known and most popular of nineteenth-century Louisiana writers
Through the Looking Glass Suite for Two Pianos – This arrangement of Taylor’s most famous piece is by James Whittaker, and provides an interesting take on the orchestral version. Taylor originally wrote the piece for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, piano and strings in 1917. After this he rescored the work for full orchestra and it was heard in this form at a New York Symphony Orchestra concert under Walter Damrosch in 1923. It was a staple of the repertory for many years. In 1924 Sergei Rachmaninoff was in the audience at one of the performances of this piece, and sent Deems a note the following day, reproduced on the fourth page of this insert
The composer wrote in the programme notes for the 1923 premiere that “the suite needs no extended analysis. It is based on Lewis Carroll’s immortal nonsense fairy-tale, Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There, and the five pictures it presents will, if all goes well, be readily recognizable to lovers of the book. There are four movements, the first being subdivided into two parts.”
The opening movement begins with a ‘Dedication’. Deems Taylor has musically described the author’s preface to the work – ‘Child of the pure, unclouded brow and dreaming eyes of wonder!’ This leads straight into ‘The Garden of Live Flowers “which is descriptive of the Looking Glass Garden flora which spoke to each other. The next movement is a little bit more sinister. The ‘frightful’ beast the Jabberwock is described. Here a little march heralds the approach of the hero. The ensuing fight is musically represented with a short fugue. Taylor has noted that “his vorpal blade (really the xylophone) goes ‘snicker-snack’ and the monster impersonated by the double bassoon, dies a lingering and convulsive death.”
The third movement is ‘The Looking Glass Insects’. The composer has cleverly portrayed all these ‘favourites’ - the Rocking-Horse Fly, the Gnat, the Bee-Elephant, the Snap-Dragon Fly and the Bread-and-Butterfly. Deems Taylor has suggested that there are several themes running through his movements but advises against trying to allocate theme to fly! Finally, the last movement is a brilliant portrayal of The White Knight. Taylor has made use of two themes here; he suggests that “the first [is] a sort of instrumental prance, being the knight’s own conception of himself as a slashing dare-devil fellow. The second is bland, mellifluous, a little sentimental –much more like the knight he really was.”