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Like as a ship

circa 1865; SSAATTBB; composed for the 1865 Bristol Madrigal Society competition
author of text
Sonnet XXXIV from Amoretti and Epithalamion

The eight-part setting of Spenser’s Sonnet XXXIV from Amoretti and Epithalamion, Like as a ship was entered for the Bristol Madrigal Society prize of 1865, but was not among the winning applicants, perhaps because its content was not madrigalian enough, or because its arresting harmonic language was too much for the judges. Whatever the reason, Stainer’s tour de force manipulates the problematic sonnet form to perfection. After a turbulent ‘octave’ (the first eight lines) in which the composer’s chromatic palette reaches new levels of daring and bravado, the emotional ‘turn’ (‘Yet hope I will’) has an intense passion whose fervour is quelled by a ‘secret sorrow and sad pensiveness’, the harmonic enterprise of which looks forward to the early twentieth century. Like as a ship remains unpublished and is performed here in an edition by Jeremy Dibble from the autograph manuscript in the Stainer Archive at Durham University.

from notes by Jeremy Dibble © 2016


English Romantic Madrigals
Studio Master: CDA68140Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available


Track 10 on CDA68140 [5'03]

Track-specific metadata for CDA68140 track 10

Recording date
25 April 2015
Recording venue
All Hallows, Gospel Oak, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Adrian Peacock
Recording engineer
David Hinitt
Hyperion usage
  1. English Romantic Madrigals (CDA68140)
    Disc 1 Track 10
    Release date: June 2016
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