Lark Ascending Analysis

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Compare and Contrast Lark Ascending by Vaughn Williams and The First Cuckoo In Spring by Delius Florence Bird

The Lark Ascending was written in 1914 however the score was thoroughly revised between the years 1919-1920 with the first performance being on December 15th 1920. The performance lasts for approximately 13 minutes and the orchestra consists of two flutes, an oboe, two clarinets, two bassoons, two horns, a triangle, and strings. The piece was inspired by traditional English folk song and also the works of George Meredith. This is shown in the pastoral style of the piece and depicts a traditional English landscape painting with rolling hills and larks calling to one another.

To introduce the piece two cadenzas inspired by the same melody are performed over a continuous subtle harmony. The piece begins with sustained chords between the string instruments and wind instruments. This gives a relaxed effortless tone to the piece and resembles the calmness and tranquillity of a spring day in England. The violin then enters imitating the lark. The violin plays an ascending pattern with elongated arpeggios. The chords underneath drop out so the violin plays a solo introducing the first theme. The orchestra is quietly introduced and develops the almost folk like motif. A folk dance theme is then introduced led by the clarinet and flute and woodwinds as the solo cadenza is repeated. The full orchestra then comes in however it is still fairly restrained to imitate the English countryside. There is antiphonal exchange between the solo violin playing a trill and then the woodwinds imitating the bird like call. This is followed by the solo violin playing a series of cadenzas over the orchestra which could represent the lark flying over the countryside and rolling hills. The shorter cadenza for the soloist is fairly contrasting in comparison to the rest of the piece. There are two separate melodies competing with one another yet also mimicking each other. There is...
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