The work begins with a two-bar introduction by woodwinds and muted strings, setting up a hazy yet shimmering stage for the solo violin’s arresting unaccompanied cadenza, which is to be played freely without adhering to strict metre, and introduction of a new melody with which the orchestra re-enters as the solo violin continues. The work embodies poetry, sublime tone, evocative expression, and possibly everything one loves about the English countryside. The voice of the solo violin represents that of the lark and Meredith’s poem, from which its twelve lines are written at the head of the score:
He rises and begins to round,
He drops the silver chain of sound,
Of man links without a break,
In chirrup, whistle, slur and shake.
For singing till his heaven fills,
‘Tis love of earth that he instils,
And ever winging up and up,
Our valley is his golden cup
And he the wine which overflows
to lift us with him as he goes.
Till lost on his aerial rings
In light, and then the fancy sings.