It must be admitted that the ‘Four Shakespeare Songs’ of 1933 are rather routine Quilter. Who is Silvia?
has charm, but little excitement, and cannot compare with Finzi’s setting. When daffodils begin to peer is a reasonably cheerful spring song, though with no suggestion of Autolycus, the ‘snapper-up of unconsidered trifles’, about it; nor does it appear that Quilter understood the implications of ‘me and my aunts, while we lie tumbling in the grass’! Sigh no more, Ladies
is appropriately cheerful, though with little individual character. How should I your true love know?
is a different matter, its gentle modal inflections conveying the mood of sorrow shared with an emotional depth only matched by Quilter in his earlier setting of Autumn Evening
. It is worth noting, in relation to the first verse, that cockle-shells were worn by pilgrims to the shrine of St James of Compostela, and that ‘sandal shoon’ are sandals, also worn by pilgrims.
from notes by Michael Pilkington © 1996