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Track(s) taken from CDA67123

The Tomb

First line:
When, cruel fair one, I am slain
author of text

Stephen Varcoe (baritone), Clifford Benson (piano)
Recording details: January 1999
Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel, Hampstead, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Antony Howell & Julian Millard
Release date: March 2000
Total duration: 4 minutes 43 seconds


'Sung with exceptional sensitivity and intelligence…a pleasure to listen to.' (Gramophone)

'No praise can be too high for Stephen Varcoe … his warm, natural baritone, finely judged legato and sensitivity to words are a joy throughout.' (International Record Review)

'A beautiful release' (American Record Guide)

'Warmly recommended' (Classic CD)
The date of The Tomb, a setting of words by the seventeenth-century poet Thomas Stanley, is uncertain. In earlier work-lists of Stanford its publication (c1886?) was attributed to the Winchester publisher, Teague & King, though no specimen has been located. An imprint has, however, survived by T Andrews & Co of Guildford as part of an undated publication entitled Our Musical Album (which included other miniatures by Parry and Cowen). The final line of Stanley’s first verse, ‘There is more liberty in Death than Love’, summarises the mood of the forsaken lover who dwells indulgently on thoughts of death in the cold earth of his marble tomb; and yet in death itself (as in the final verse) he clings to the thought that his beloved may still retain his memory ‘buried in thy breast’. Stanford’s response was to match the theatrical gestures of Stanley’s poem with broad, seamless vocal lines (in accordance with the irregular lengths of the rhyming couplets), full accompanimental textures and strong harmonies redolent of Brahms. Especially effective is the last verse which, in triple metre, commences with cortège-like iambic rhythms in the piano before building to an impressive, impassioned climax (‘Since by thine eye slain’).

from notes by Jeremy Dibble © 2000

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