The Shepherds’ Farewell For String Quartet

By vaughan • 8th December 2011 • Posted in: Manor House Music Recordings

Vaughan Jones, the arranger of all the tracks on the Manor House String quartet‘s second collection of Christmas carols ‘It Came Upon The midnight Clear and other carols’ reduced this particular piece from full orchestra down to string quartet (you can hear a sound sample of it by following the link). The full title of Hector Berlioz’s ‘The Shepherds’ Farewell’ is ‘L’Adieu des Bergers a la Sainte Famille’ (‘The Shepherds Bid Farewell to the Holy Family’). It is from Part 2 of his oratorio ‘L’Enfance du Christ’ (‘The Childhood of Christ’) which is a trilogy based on the holy family’s flight into Egypt.

From a musical performance point of view, what is interesting about ‘The Shepherds’ Farewell’ is the tempo indication given by the composer. He clearly marks the piece ‘Allegretto’ and even gives it a metronome marking of 55 crotchets a minute. This is at variance with almost every recording I’ve ever heard of the piece. Indeed, if this marking is to be taken literally, it would mean performing it at almost double the speed we are accustomed to! I have to say that I find most performances of it rather dreary and it really does come alive when performed nearer to the composer’s specified tempo marking. We opted for a slight compromise and felt that it gave the piece back a little freshness. Also, the combination of the string quartet gives the piece intimacy and allows the ear to settle on the richness of Berlioz’s harmonies: one of our favourites from this disc!



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About Manor House Music

Manor House Music is a wedding string quartet and duo consisting of some of the UK’s finest musicians. Founded in 2005, and based on the borders of Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire, we’ve now performed for over 800 weddings, corporate events and private functions. We combine a high quality of musical performance with a large repertoire of dynamic arrangements and a desire to work closely with clients to ensure that every detail is just right for your event.



Tel: 07870 171194