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English Echoes: English Country Dance Favorites

It may be possible to do without dancing entirely. Instances have been known of young people passing many, many months successively, without being at any ball of any description, and no material injury accrue either to body or mind; — but when a beginning is made — when the felicities of rapid motion have once been, though slightly, felt — it must be a very heavy set that does not ask for more.
Emma

This CD anyone who’s ever wanted to hear (or even dance) the dances that Jane Austen was familiar with. Dancing plays an integral part in all of Austen’s romances, from Darcy leading Lizzy to the floor at Netherfield, to Mr. Knightley’s “not so much brother and sister” at the Crown Inn.Henry Tilney first engages Catherine Morland’s notice at an assembly in Bath and Willoughby’s duplicity with Miss Grey is discovered at a similar assembly in London.

English Echoes features 14 dance length country dances and waltzes that would have been well known to the Austen family. Several are by John Playford, of Playford’s Dancing Master fame. Another, Shrewsburry Lasses, (by Charles and Samuel Thompson, 1765, Dances as they are performed at Court, Bath, and all Publick Assemblys.) is familiar from the 1995 Pride and Prejudice. Discerning listeners will recall Lizzy and Mr. Collin’s failed attempt at dancing at the Netherfield ball (“Other way, Mr. Collins!)*.

All in all, it is a delightful collection, evocative of “Jane Austen movies – at times smooth and elegant, others bouncy and lively – this music accompanies dancing that has been enjoyed since the 1600’s. Becky, Liz, and Colleen weave together sweet harmonies with lively rhythmic punctuation.” The CD may be ordered from CDbaby.com. The full track listing may also be downloaded in mp3 format from Amazon.com.

From the Liner Notes:
Becky Ross, Liz Donaldson, and Colleen Reed play regularly as part of a vibrant and talented community of musicians at the weekly English Country Dance sponsored by the Folklore Society of Greater Washington in Glen Echo, MD. They have found an easy chemistry as a trio, weaving together sweet harmonies and melodies with lively rhythmic punctuation.

English Country Dancing is thought to have taken place as early as the 16th century, but became all the rage in the 1600’s and continued well into the 18th century. In the early 1900’s, reinterpretations of historic dances sparked renewed interest. All the while, new dances are continually being devised so that today’s dance community enjoys a vast repertory of modern and old dances, with music from the 1500’s to the present.

English Echoes represents a selection of our favorite tunes offering a variety of meters (jigs, reels, waltzes, 3/2 time) and moods, from elegant and smooth to bouncy and lively. We ordered the dance-length selections as a dance program representing a variety of styles and dance formations. We hope you will also enjoy this recording for general listening.

Tracks include:

  1. Take A Dance
  2. Mr. Isaac’s Maggot (Playford)
  3. Honeysuckle Cottage
  4. Collier’s Daughter (Playford)
  5. Halsway Manners
  6. Peace Be With You
  7. Newcastle (Playford)
  8. Newcastle Reprise
  9. The MollyAndrew
  10. Key to the Cellar
  11. Shrewsbury Lasses
  12. Alice
  13. Money in Both Pockets
  14. Well Hall

Fourteen selections with Liz Donaldson, piano, Becky Ross, fiddle, Colleen Reed, flute and Bruce Edwards, bassoon. Approximately 56 minutes of music. Copyright 2007.

* Download the sheetmusic for Shrewsbury Lasses. Just right click and save.