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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67227
Recording details: August 2000
Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel, Hampstead, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Antony Howell & Julian Millard
Release date: May 2001
Total duration: 6 minutes 17 seconds

La belle dame sans merci
First line:
O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms
composer
30 October 1877
author of text
1819

Other recordings available for download
Stephen Varcoe (baritone), Clifford Benson (piano)
Gerald Finley (baritone), Julius Drake (piano)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Stanford’s La belle dame sans merci is a setting of Keats’ famous 1819 ballad of the unnamed knight fatally bewitched by the mysterious ‘faery’s child’—a favourite subject for composers and pre-Raphaelite painters alike. Stanford composed this celebrated song early in 1877 (making it an exact contemporary of Sullivan’s The Lost Chord), drawing on sketches he had made over a decade earlier. As in many of Loewe’s ballads (Stanford’s probable model), the successive verses vary the plain, bardic melody, with the piano-as-orchestra adding atmosphere and illustrative detail. A seductive, remote modulation lures the knight to his ruin (‘She took me to her elfin grot’). In the penultimate verse he awakens to eerie chromatic harmonies, before text and music return to the chill reality of the opening.

from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2011


Other albums featuring this work
'Stanford: Songs, Vol. 1' (CDA67123)
Stanford: Songs, Vol. 1
'The Ballad Singer' (CDA67830)
The Ballad Singer

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