Welcome to Hyperion Records, an independent British classical label devoted to presenting high-quality recordings of music of all styles and from all periods from the twelfth century to the twenty-first.
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Although Parry assigned the title of ‘madrigal’ to La belle dame sans merci, its style and technique belong unquestionably to the part-song. But in contrast to the miniature conception of part-song design, Parry’s work looks to a more developed process of variation to illustrate the narrative form of Keats’s twelve verses. Indeed, it is compelling to observe the composer’s expansion of the opening material in verses 2 and 3; likewise, the forward-motion of the narrative necessitates subtle changes in verses 5, 6 and 7 which are all grounded in the relative major. As a contrast to the tonal stability of verses 1–3 (F minor) and 4–7 (A flat major), the ghastly phantasm of the ‘pale kings and princes’, with ‘their starved lips in the gloam’, is couched in passages of tonal dissolution which is only solemnly resolved by a recapitulation of the opening material. This time, however, the reiteration of the words and music has a more sinister and frightening connotation.
from notes by Jeremy Dibble © 2016