Hyperion Records

The Song of Songs
composer
1915
author of text
Song of Songs, Authorized Version

Recordings
'Bantock: Orchestral Music' (CDS44281/6)
Bantock: Orchestral Music
MP3 £30.00FLAC £30.00ALAC £30.00Buy by post £33.00 CDS44281/6  6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)  
'Bantock: The Song of Songs' (CDA67395)
Bantock: The Song of Songs
MP3 £7.99FLAC £7.99ALAC £7.99Buy by post £13.99 (ARCHIVE SERVICE) CDA67395  Archive Service; also available on CDS44281/6  
'Bantock: Thalaba the Destroyer & other orchestral works' (CDA67250)
Bantock: Thalaba the Destroyer & other orchestral works
MP3 £7.99FLAC £7.99ALAC £7.99Buy by post £13.99 (ARCHIVE SERVICE) CDA67250  Archive Service; also available on CDS44281/6  
Details
Day 2 No 1: The voice of my beloved! (Shulamite)
Track 7 on CDA67395 [2'25] Archive Service; also available on CDS44281/6
Track 7 on CDS44281/6 CD6 [2'25] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Day 2 No 2: My beloved spake (Shulamite/Shepherd)
Track 8 on CDA67395 [1'56] Archive Service; also available on CDS44281/6
Track 8 on CDS44281/6 CD6 [1'56] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Day 2 No 3: Arise, my love, my fair one (Shepherd)
Track 9 on CDA67395 [2'53] Archive Service; also available on CDS44281/6
Track 9 on CDS44281/6 CD6 [2'53] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Day 2 No 4: Take us the foxes, the little foxes (Shulamite)
Track 10 on CDA67395 [3'15] Archive Service; also available on CDS44281/6
Track 10 on CDS44281/6 CD6 [3'15] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Day 2 No 5: Orchestral interlude
Track 11 on CDA67395 [2'29] Archive Service; also available on CDS44281/6
Track 11 on CDS44281/6 CD6 [2'29] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Day 2 No 6: By night in my dream (Shulamite)
Track 12 on CDA67395 [3'10] Archive Service; also available on CDS44281/6
Track 12 on CDS44281/6 CD6 [3'10] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Day 2 No 7: But I found him whom my soul loveth (Shulamite)
Track 13 on CDA67395 [3'20] Archive Service; also available on CDS44281/6
Track 13 on CDS44281/6 CD6 [3'20] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Day 3 No 1: The King's gifts
Track 14 on CDA67395 [1'04] Archive Service; also available on CDS44281/6
Track 14 on CDS44281/6 CD6 [1'04] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Day 3 No 2: The Shulamite
Track 15 on CDA67395 [2'16] Archive Service; also available on CDS44281/6
Track 15 on CDS44281/6 CD6 [2'16] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Day 3 No 3: The Shulamite is left alone
Track 16 on CDA67395 [0'59] Archive Service; also available on CDS44281/6
Track 16 on CDS44281/6 CD6 [0'59] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Day 3 No 4: The Shulamite reflects upon her absent shepherd-lover
Track 17 on CDA67395 [1'09] Archive Service; also available on CDS44281/6
Track 17 on CDS44281/6 CD6 [1'09] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Day 3 No 5: And sees him in a vision on the mountainside
Track 18 on CDA67395 [1'29] Archive Service; also available on CDS44281/6
Track 18 on CDS44281/6 CD6 [1'29] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Day 5 No 1: Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness? (Watchman/Shepherd)
Track 19 on CDA67395 [2'00] Archive Service; also available on CDS44281/6
Track 19 on CDS44281/6 CD6 [2'00] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Day 5 No 2: Set me as a seal upon thine heart (Shulamite/Shepherd)
Track 20 on CDA67395 [1'42] Archive Service; also available on CDS44281/6
Track 20 on CDS44281/6 CD6 [1'42] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Day 5 No 3: Many waters cannot quench love (Shulamite/Shepherd)
Track 21 on CDA67395 [1'03] Archive Service; also available on CDS44281/6
Track 21 on CDS44281/6 CD6 [1'03] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Day 5 No 4: For love is strong as death (Shulamite/Shepherd)
Track 22 on CDA67395 [2'31] Archive Service; also available on CDS44281/6
Track 22 on CDS44281/6 CD6 [2'31] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Day 5 No 5: We have a little sister (Shulamite/Shepherd)
Track 23 on CDA67395 [3'56] Archive Service; also available on CDS44281/6
Track 23 on CDS44281/6 CD6 [3'56] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Day 5 No 6: Make haste, my beloved (Shulamite)
Track 24 on CDA67395 [3'08] Archive Service; also available on CDS44281/6
Track 24 on CDS44281/6 CD6 [3'08] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Extract: Prelude
Track 1 on CDA67250 [11'40] Archive Service; also available on CDS44281/6
Track 1 on CDS44281/6 CD5 [11'40] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)

The Song of Songs
EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Bantock wrote several extended choral works, but The Song of Songs is unique in its composer’s output in that it was conceived before the First World War—according to his diary it was started on 2 July 1912, and the completed manuscript vocal score is dated 1915. On Tuesday 2 July Bantock wrote in his diary: ‘Arranged “The Song of Songs” as a libretto for a Lyrical Drama for music in 5 scenes. Wrote the first 79 bars of the prelude, & sketched the themes for the King, & other portions.’

Bantock had clearly invented his scheme and all the motifs for the various characters at the outset, and it was evidently so vivid for him he had encapsulated it all in the orchestral Prelude, the short score of which is dated 17 July 1912. However the complete work would not be completed in full score until 10 December 1926.

From the order in which Bantock completed the various sections of this epic, it is clear he was least caught by the extended scenes of the King’s failure to win the Shulamite which form the Third and Fourth ‘Days’. Before them came the outer ‘Days’, strong in love interest; the vocal score of the Second Day is dated 14 July 1915 and that of the Fifth Day, 3 September 1915, both love duets, the Fifth Day referring back to the themes of the earlier one.

The Prelude and the First Day, in which the King first sings the praises of the Shulamite, were first heard at the Gloucester Three Choirs Festival in 1922, and published separately. It was the demands of a commitment to a firm and prestigious performance date that gave Bantock the impetus to set the rest of the music in full score at Birmingham during 1926: the Fifth Day was completed first, on 20 August; the Third and Fourth Days are dated 16 October and 10 December respectively. The huge vocal score was published complete in time for the first performance by Hallé forces conducted by Sir Hamilton Harty on 10 March 1927, with Dorothy Silk taking the role of the Shulamite and Frank Mullings her Shepherd lover. Soon the BBC announced a broadcast performance, but when it took place on Sunday 11 December 1927, with Dorothy Silk repeating the title role, although it ran for two hours, the Radio Times announced that ‘owing to the length of the work it has been found necessary to omit the orchestral Prelude and the First Scene’. Other performances followed, but the length was clearly a problem. When it was broadcast on 1 January 1932 it was now in a condensed version running for an hour and twenty-five minutes, Elsie Suddaby now taking the role of the Shulamite. Later, in 1935 and 1936, Adrian Boult and Bantock himself conducted extracts, when Laelia Finnberg was a very successful Shulamite, and in 1937 Bantock conducted the Prelude as a separate concert work in a programme of his own music, but that seems to have been the last time it was heard until now.

This is a setting of verses from ‘The Song of Songs’ taken from the Authorized Version of The Bible. Bantock personalises and dramatises these familiar words, words we normally associate with chaste ecclesiastic settings, treating them as a passionate love story, and giving them a luxuriant and exotic, indeed erotic, setting. Bantock allots the words to three main characters, the Shulamite (soprano), her Shepherd lover (tenor), and the King—King Solomon (bass-baritone), whose suit she rejects. Each ‘Day’ is punctuated by massive choral settings of the psalms, creating contrast from the overheated exchanges of the protagonists, and at key points there are set-piece orchestral interludes mainly in the form of exotic dances.

Bantock sets the words from ‘The Song of Songs’ (indeed, most of it) verbatim, and in the manuscript vocal score he calls it a ‘dramatic rhapsody’, but on the printed vocal score merely uses the form of words ‘set to music for 6 solo voices, chorus and orchestra’. But the score includes stage instructions and Bantock clearly envisaged it visually. He specifies the same set for the first four acts or scenes (the First Day, Second Day, etc) covering the span from noon on the first day to a later evening, where we are in the ‘women’s Apartment in the Palace of the King, Lattice Windows at the back’ which when opened reveal a starlit sky and the distant hills. In the Fifth Day, we are at dawn at the foot of a watchtower among the vineyards of Lebanon with a large apple tree in full flower centre stage.

Here we present the whole of the Second Day and the love duet that constitutes the greater part of the Fifth Day. In this performance they have been linked with an extended orchestral passage from the Third Day. In the Third Day the King has arrived in great pomp, treated in detail by Bantock, and crowned by a massive chorus, and has made a passionate suit to the object of his affections and ‘various offerings and costly presents are brought by slaves and laid at the feet of the Shulamite. She rejects one after another the proffered gifts’. We join the music at the tail end of this (vocal score page 157: ‘Imperioso’), as with wistful feelings on both sides, and a distant reminiscence of the Shulamite’s music from the Second Day, ‘The King, realising that his suit has failed, gives a signal for all his followers to retire, and the Shulamite is left alone with her female attendants, surrounded by the neglected offerings’. Soon, to familiar music, ‘The Shulamite reflects upon her absent shepherd-lover,’ ‘and sees him in a vision on the mountainside’.

Before our final extract, in the Fourth Day the Shulamite has been depicted pining, alone with her attendants who try to distract her with a succession of dances, and the King returns with one final attempt to woo her and sings of her beauty, before we reach the Fifth Day and the scene moves outside for the first time. The Watchman announces the entrance of the Shulamite with her Shepherd lover and they sing such well-known words as ‘Set me as a seal upon thine heart’, ‘Many waters cannot quench love’ and ‘For love is strong as death’, given in a high-flown romantic style. Bantock vividly realises a colourful scene that was as immediate and realistic for him as had been the exotic desert landscape in Omar Khayyám, and the love-lorn world of Sappho.

from notes by Lewis Foreman © 2003

Track-specific metadata
Click track numbers opposite to select

Details for CDA67395 track 13
Day 2 No 7: But I found him whom my soul loveth (Shulamite)
Artists
ISRC
GB-AJY-03-39513
Duration
3'20
Recording date
2 April 2003
Recording venue
Watford Colosseum, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Martin Compton
Recording engineer
Tony Faulkner
Hyperion usage
  1. Bantock: The Song of Songs (CDA67395)
    Disc 1 Track 13
    Release date: October 2003
    Deletion date: February 2011
    Archive Service; also available on CDS44281/6
  2. Bantock: Orchestral Music (CDS44281/6)
    Disc 6 Track 13
    Release date: October 2007
    6CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Show: MP3 FLAC ALAC
   English   Français   Deutsch