Before he started writing comic operas with W.S. Gilbert, Arthur Sullivan composed a number of part-songs; the best-known of these is The Long Day Closes, written in 1868. The words, written by Sullivan's friend and collaborator Henry Fothergill Chorley, are about the end of life; so not surprisingly, the song was often sung at funerals of members of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company. As with Sweet and Low, the sentiments expressed in both the words and the vocal arrangement are very characteristically Victorian.
Sullivan originally intended The Long Day Closes to be sung by a small male-voice ensemble, and The King's Singers give an admirably precise rendition in this format. However, the song has also proved very popular with larger male voice choirs, and the Morriston Orpheus Choir from South Wales has recorded a typically stirring performance.
There are many performances by mixed choirs too, and here are two of the best: the University of Nottingham Viva Voce choir give a very full-blooded rendition perhaps influenced by the Welsh male voice choir above; while New Zealand's Auckland Youth Choir give a more restrained but beautifully controlled performance.
Less conventionally, the Vokalensemble Dreiklang perform the song as a female vocal trio; while it is well done, it inevitably lacks some of the harmonic richness of the original four-part arrangement. Lastly, Mike Leigh's film about Gilbert and Sullivan, Topsy Turvy, closes with a string quartet version arranged and conducted by Carl Davis.
Saturday 29th September 2018
12th & 13th October
Home at Last
St. Mary Redcliffe
Sunday 11th November
Footnotes to the Great War
Bristol Museum, 6.30 pm
Saturday 15th December
St Alban's Church, Westbury Park, 7.30 pm