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Welcome to Hyperion Records, an independent British classical label devoted to presenting high-quality recordings of music of all styles and from all periods from the twelfth century to the twenty-first.
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On a time the amorous Silvy Said to her shepherd: Sweet how do ye? Kiss me this once and then God be with ye, My sweetest dear; Kiss me this once and then God be with ye, For now the morning draweth near.
With that, her fairest bosom showing, Opening her lips, rich perfumes blowing, She said: Now kiss me and be going, My sweetest dear; Kiss me this once and then be going, For now the morning draweth near.
With that the shepherd waked from sleeping, And spying where the day was peeping, He said: Now take my soul in keeping, My sweetest dear; Kiss me and take my soul in keeping, Since I must go, now day is near.
The majority of songs in Set VII, published in 1907, are settings of Elizabethan and Jacobean poetry. On a time the amorous Silvy, an anonymous text in John Attey’s The First Book of Ayres (1622), is a delightful pastoral narrative, coloured by a series of deft tonal deviations, the most salient of which occurs at the end (‘Since I must go’) as the shepherd wistfully departs.
Ye little birds that sit and sing Amidst the shady valleys, And see how Phillis sweetly walks Within her garden alleys; Go pretty birds about her bower, Sing pretty birds she may not lower, Ah me, methinks I see her frown, Ye pretty wantons warble.
Go tell her through your chirping bills, As you by me are bidden, To her is only known my love, Which from the world is hidden: Go pretty birds and tell her so, See that your notes strain not too low, For still methinks I see her frown, Ye pretty wantons warble.
Go tune your voices’ harmony, And sing I am her lover; Strain loud and sweet, that ev’ry note, With sweet content may move her: And she that hath the sweetest voice, Tell her I will not change my choice, Yet still methinks I see her frown, Ye pretty wantons warble.
Oh fly, make haste, see, see, she falls Into a pretty slumber, Sing round about her rosy bed That waking she may wonder, Say to her, ’tis her lover true, That sendeth love to you, to you: And when you hear her kind reply, Return with pleasant warblings.
Thomas Heywood (?1574-1641)
Thomas Heywood’s Ye little birds that sit and sing, from The Fair Maid of the Exchange (1607), and Herrick’s Julia, from Hesperides (1648) are rare examples of patter-songs. Both rely on the extensive repetition of material, yet, in both instances, Parry imaginatively varies the figuration of the piano accompaniments, subtly modifies the interludes and increasingly alters details of the vocal material. This is carried on to such an extent in Ye little birds that the elongation of the ‘warbling’ melisma in the last verse seems inevitable.
O never say that I was false of heart, Though absence seem’d my flame to qualify! As easy might I from myself depart. As from my soul, which in thy breast doth lie: That is my home of love: if I have rang’d, Like him that travels, I return again; Just to the time, not with the time exchang’d, – So that myself bring water for my stain. Never believe, though in my nature reign’d All frailties that besiege all kinds of blood, That it could so preposterously be stain’d, To leave for nothing all thy sum of good; For nothing this wide universe I call, Save thou, my rose; in it thou art my all.
William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
Shakespeare’s Sonnet CIX, O never say that I was false of heart, is an earnest declaration of love and unwavering constancy which, in view of its dedication to his wife, may well have been intended by Parry as a autobiographical statement. The emotional turbulence of the text is reflected in the marked tonal fluidity – the opening progressions in the piano and the oblique entry of the voice are but two examples. Indeed, the tonic, E flat, is only established in the closing bars, after an even more exceptional divergence to the flat submediant (C flat major), a move that underscores the most fervent statement of devotion (‘For nothing this wide universe I call’).
Beautiful up from the deeps of the solemn sea Cometh sweet Sleep to me, From silent cool green deeps, Where no one wakes and weeps, Cometh, as one who dreameth, With slowly waving hands, And the sound of her garment seemeth Like waves on the level sands; So cometh Sleep. There is rest for all mankind, When her slow wings stir the wind; With lullaby the drowsy waters creep To kiss the feet of Sleep.
Julian Russell Sturgis (1848-1904)
Sleep, from Sturgis’s A Book of Song, must rank as one of Parry’s finest songs. The gentle, Brahmsian figurations of the piano evoke a drowsiness that conceals an inner agitation. For a brief moment only, the song threatens to became more restless, but such emotions are restrained once more by the onset of a profound sense of tranquillity. Parry’s harmonic control in the last sixteen bars is both breathtaking and transfixing, surely constituting some of his most inspired writing for voice and piano.