Three Hardy Songs: At Tea - By Her Aunt's Grave - The Ruined Maid
The three settings of Thomas Hardy poems [Satires of Circumstance] were composed in 1990 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the writer's birth.
In the first, the young wife is blissfully unaware that the woman invited to tea and sitting next to her was her own husband's first choice, "till the fates ordained it could not be so".
'By Her Aunt's Grave', the niece and her lover decide to spend the "sixpence a week" saved over "eighty weeks, or near" ("to cover the cost of her headstone"), at the "dance tonight at the Load of Hay"....
'The Ruined Maid' is anything but ruined, of course.... In this chance meeting in town, a maid wonders at Melia's new-found chic, to which the refrains all say, in different ways, how "some polish is gained with one's ruin".
These recordings were made on 26th June 1996 by Christine Page, accompanied by Duncan Honeybourne, in the old Weymouth College Science Lecture Theatre which the Music Section regularly used for concerts and rehearsals. Rod Adams was the recording engineer, with help from Mike Botterill.
By Her Aunt's Grave
The Ruined Maid
I have composed three further settings by Hardy, yet to be performed in public, but were recorded along with the original three settings in the summer of 2016 by Abbi Temple & Duncan Honeybourne, in the magnificent Birley Centre [named after my father] at Eastbourne College. The recording engineer was Joe Walsh. These additional settings are: 'Proud Songsters'; 'The Lodging-House Fuscias'; & 'The Faithful Swallow' [which are now numbers 3, 4 & 5 between 'By Her Aunt's Grave' and 'The Ruined Maid']. In the process of adding these songs I discovered that I had inadvertently omitted a tiny bit of the text in 'At Tea' so have revised this slightly!
These are the complete Six Hardy Songs. sung by Abbi Temple and accompanied by Duncan Honeybourne, to both of whom I am enormously grateful: