In the Bleak Midwinter for String Quartet – ‘In The Bleak Midwinter’ appears on Manor House String Quartet’s first album of string quartet Christmas carol arrangements, entitled ‘I Saw Three Ships and other carols’. There are two well known melodies associated with ‘In The Bleak Midwinter’ – one is by Harold Darke and the other is by Gustav Holst. On our carol disc, the arranger Vaughan Jones opted for the Holst melody but would certainly like to write a string quartet arrangement on the Harold Darke piece at some point in the future.
The Holst version was written in 1909 as music to accompany the poem by Christina Rossetti and it is a well loved seasonal tune which has always been immensely popular at our Christmas concerts. When Vaughan began arranging this carol for string quartet¬†he wanted to bring out the simple beauty of the tune and illuminate the melody with gentle strings rather than mar its fragile beauty with an overly elaborate arrangement. A simple counter melody emerges in the first violin part and later on there follows a soft pizzicato section with the tune remaining bowed.
You can also purchase the sheet music of Vaughan’s arrangement for the combinations of string quartet and string orchestra here: