Capriol Suite


The Capriol Suite is a set of dances composed in October 1926 and is considered one of Warlock's most popular works. The original piano duet version of the work was a great success and was quickly followed by the version for string orchestra (1926) and a version for full orchestra (1928).

The Capriol Suite is a set of dances in the renaissance style. It was based on tunes found in Orchésographie, a manual of Renaissance dances by the French priest Jehan Tabourot (pen name: Thoinot Arbeau). However, the treatment of the source material is very free. Warlock's biographer, Cecil Gray, writes "if one compares these tunes with what the composer has made of them it will be seen that to all intents and purposes it can be regarded as an original work."

The suite consists of six contrasting movements:

  1. Basse-Danse - a lively dance for older folk, in which the dancers’ feet for the most part slide along the floor.
  2. Pavane - a more stately dance
  3. Tordion - similar in mood to the opening movement.
  4. Bransles - (pronounced “Brawl”) a fast country dance which works its way into a frenzy, continuously building in speed and excitement.
  5. Pieds-en-l'air - the Suite’s most popular movement. While most movements are named after the dance name, this one is named after the dancers’ instruction. The dancers’ feet should move so gently that they barely touch the floor. This movement provides a nice oasis of calm before the final movement.
  6. Mattachins (Sword Dance) - an exhilarating sword dance, danced by four men in pretend combat. The music is march like throughout, climaxing in violent dissonances which send the piece hurtling to a close.

Duration: 10 minutes