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Track(s) taken from CDA67830

La belle dame sans merci

First line:
O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms?
30 October 1877
author of text

Gerald Finley (baritone), Julius Drake (piano)
Recording details: February 2010
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: June 2011
Total duration: 6 minutes 6 seconds

Cover artwork: La belle dame sans merci by Sir Frank Dicksee (1853-1928)
© Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery / Bridgeman Art Library, London

Other recordings available for download

Stephen Varcoe (baritone), Clifford Benson (piano)
Lynne Dawson (soprano), Malcolm Martineau (piano)


'Finley, who has one of those exquisite voices that could make poetry of the telephone directory, vividly characterises the words without recourse to the exaggerated enunciation … Drake uses all the colouristic forces he can command with wit (The Flea), bravura (Erlkönig and Wolf's spellbinding Der Feurreiter) and imagination (Loewe's Die wandelnde Glocke). As these pages have said before, it's a great partnership' (Gramophone)

'A new idea for the anthology disc: here is Gerald Finley, in his vocal prime, as balladeer—telling tales of misadventure and gothic horror … Finley is a fine tale-teller. In Loewe, he sounds as though he's singing just for you, the listener, so rapt and intense is his communication' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Drake's playing has successfully suited the varied repertoire. Finley has enthralled with his interpretations and delighted with his singing purely as singing, combining the two expertly. If I were a reviewer who seems to think that it is mandatory to nominate a CD as outstanding each month I might consider proposing this well-recorded issue' (International Record Review)

'Listen to these wonderfully melodramatic, mostly Victorian ballads by candlelight in a haunted house … performances full of raging fortissimos and ghoulish tremolandos from Finley and his pianist Julius Drake' (The Times)
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

En 1877 (en même temps, donc, que Sullivan avec The Lost Chord), Stanford s’appuya sur des ébauches vieilles de dix ans pour rédiger sa fameuse La belle dame sans merci, d’après la non moins célèbre ballade de Keats (1819) sur un chevalier anonyme mortellement ensorcelé par la mystérieuse enfant de fée—un thème cher aux compositeurs comme aux peintres préraphaélites. Comme dans maintes ballades de Loewe (probable modèle de Stanford), les strophes successives modifient la mélodie simple, pareille à celles des bardes, le piano-orchestre apportant atmosphère et détails illustratifs. Une séduisante modulation éloignée attire le chevalier pour le mener à sa perte («Elle m’entraîna dans sa grotte d’elfe»). À l’avant-dernière strophe, il s’éveille sur de sinistres harmonies chromatiques avant que texte et musique ne retrouvent la réalité glaciale du début.

extrait des notes rédigées par Richard Wigmore © 2011
Français: Hypérion

Stanfords La belle dame sans merci ist eine Vertonung der berühmten Ballade von Keats aus dem Jahr 1819, in der ein unbenannter Ritter einer fatalen Verzauberung durch das mysteriöse „Feenkind“ erliegt—ein beliebter Stoff sowohl unter Komponisten als auch unter den präraffaelitischen Malern. Stanford komponierte dieses berühmte Lied 1877 (also genau zur selben Zeit wie The Lost Chord von Sullivan) und griff auf Skizzen zurück, die er mehr als zehn Jahre zuvor gemacht hatte. Wie es auch bei vielen Balladen von Loewe (der wahrscheinlich Stanfords Vorbild war) der Fall ist, wird in den Strophen die schlichte, bardische Melodie variiert und das Klavier, das als Orchester-Ersatz auftritt, sorgt für Atmosphäre und liefert anschauliche Details. Eine verführerische, weit wegführende Modulation lockt den Ritter ins Verderben („She took me to her elfin grot“—„Sie führte mich in ihre Elfengrotte“). In der vorletzten Strophe erwacht er zu unheimlichen chromatischen Harmonien, bevor der Text und die Musik zu der kalten Realität des Beginns zurückkehren.

aus dem Begleittext von Richard Wigmore © 2011
Deutsch: Viola Scheffel

Other albums featuring this work

On this Island
CDA67227Archive Service
Stanford: Songs, Vol. 1
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