While the original Lovelife Dances were a playful look at love's life and losses, the New Lovelife Dances form a more sober, more sensual, and perhaps more solid interpretation of love.
Love in the new set of dances is life-long. From the first song, a novelist's poetry telling the rapid whole-life story of two lovers from the mingled hair of first love to the pale cheeks of final love ("Two Lovers", poem by George Eliot), to the final song, a balladeer's end-of-life true love ("John Anderson, My Jo", poem by Robert Burns), love is strong and true and --- while life lasts -- passionate.
New Lovelife Dances contains 14 songs with 4-hand piano accompaniment, 10 for mixed chorus and two each for women's and men's chorus. All is not serious, however, with comedy by Anonymous ("Believe Not Him"), carefree lust by Shakespeare ("It Was a Lover and a Lass"), and a farewell-I-love-you poem by Lord Byron.
The new set of dances is not only more serious and sensual -- it is also somewhat more difficult, though still within the framework of a challenging work for amateur chorus, like its model, Brahms' Liebeslieder Waltzes. The range for soprano (solo part) goes to a high C, for example, and there are several songs that are moderately difficult in pitch and rhythm.
The set of texts is even more distinguished than the first set, taken again from English poetry, and including some of the favorite lyrics ever set to music ("A Red, Red Rose", "It Was a Lover and a Lass", "Come Live With Me and Be My Love").
Each song is a relatively simple structure, with a tonal center that contributes to the dramatic shape of the entire cycle. Typical is a brief introduction for piano followed by a strophic choral setting, often with variations and contrasting sections.
The dramatic shape is as clear as Lovelife Dances, but somewhat different: here the model is perhaps a whip: succeeding climactic moments with relaxation in between. Pauses in performance may be appropriate after #6 and #9. An alternative performance uses a single pause after #8.
Copyright 2003 Hartenshield Group Inc. This essay may be quoted in whole or in part if the following credit line is used.
From "By a Moss-grown Spring" by William Copper, copyright 2003 The Hartenshield Group Inc.