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Three Shakespeare Songs, Op 6

composer
1905
author of text
Nos 1 & 2 from Twelfth Night; No 3 from As You Like It

 
The ‘Three Shakespeare Songs’ were composed in 1905, the first and most successful of Quilter’s seventeen settings of Shakespeare’s words. Come away, death shows Quilter’s ability to adapt the phrases of his music to suit the stress of the words; the two verses are nearly strophic, but not quite, and the climax appears on the word Shakespeare surely designed for the purpose, ‘weep’. Warlock’s comment on O mistress mine perhaps balances Trevor Hold’s opinion (expressed in his excellent study of Quilter’s songs: The Walled-in Garden, Thames, 1996) that it ‘is the weakest of the set … the worst flaw is the quite unjustified repetition of the opening line of the poem’. A possible justification can be to use this repetition to show the singer’s realization that his light-hearted remarks are only too true, and that ‘what’s to come’ really is unsure. The final cadence, far from being ‘excruciatingly sloppy’ as Trevor Hold would have it, is for some listeners at least an expression of resignation at the transitoriness of joy. The third song is more straightforward, save that the mood of the poem is not. Is it defiant, miserable, cheerful, or what? Quilter manages to make all these interpretations possible in this rhythmically powerful setting.

from notes by Michael Pilkington © 1996

Recordings

Quilter: Songs
CDA66878
Songs to Shakespeare
CDA66480Archive Service
A Treasury of English Song
This album is not yet available for downloadHYP30Super-budget price sampler — Deleted

Details

No 1: Come away, death
Track 15 on CDA66480 [2'59] Archive Service
Track 1 on CDA66878 [2'35]
Track 9 on HYP30 [2'59] Super-budget price sampler — Deleted
No 2: O mistress mine
Track 2 on CDA66878 [1'15]
No 3: Blow, blow, thou winter wind
Track 3 on CDA66878 [2'13]

Track-specific metadata for HYP30 track 9

No 1: Come away, death
Artists
ISRC
GB-AJY-91-48015
Duration
2'59
Recording date
8 February 1991
Recording venue
Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel, Hampstead, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Martin Compton
Recording engineer
Antony Howell
Hyperion usage
  1. Songs to Shakespeare (CDA66480)
    Disc 1 Track 15
    Release date: November 1991
    Deletion date: August 2005
    Archive Service
  2. A Treasury of English Song (HYP30)
    Disc 1 Track 9
    Release date: April 2004
    Deletion date: November 2011
    Super-budget price sampler — Deleted
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