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Three Shakespeare Songs, Op 6

author of text
Nos 1 & 2 from Twelfth Night; No 3 from As You Like It

The ‘Three Shakespeare Songs’ were composed in 1905, the first and most successful of Quilter’s seventeen settings of Shakespeare’s words. Come away, death shows Quilter’s ability to adapt the phrases of his music to suit the stress of the words; the two verses are nearly strophic, but not quite, and the climax appears on the word Shakespeare surely designed for the purpose, ‘weep’. Warlock’s comment on O mistress mine perhaps balances Trevor Hold’s opinion (expressed in his excellent study of Quilter’s songs: The Walled-in Garden, Thames, 1996) that it ‘is the weakest of the set … the worst flaw is the quite unjustified repetition of the opening line of the poem’. A possible justification can be to use this repetition to show the singer’s realization that his light-hearted remarks are only too true, and that ‘what’s to come’ really is unsure. The final cadence, far from being ‘excruciatingly sloppy’ as Trevor Hold would have it, is for some listeners at least an expression of resignation at the transitoriness of joy. The third song is more straightforward, save that the mood of the poem is not. Is it defiant, miserable, cheerful, or what? Quilter manages to make all these interpretations possible in this rhythmically powerful setting.

from notes by Michael Pilkington © 1996


Quilter: Songs
Vaughan Williams, Finzi & Quilter: Whither must I wander? & other songs
Studio Master: SIGCD314Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Songs to Shakespeare
CDA66480Archive Service
A Treasury of English Song
This album is not yet available for downloadHYP30Super-budget price sampler — Deleted


No 1: Come away, death
Track 15 on CDA66480 [2'59] Archive Service
Track 1 on CDA66878 [2'35]
Track 18 on SIGCD314 [2'36] Download only
Track 9 on HYP30 [2'59] Super-budget price sampler — Deleted
No 2: O mistress mine
Track 2 on CDA66878 [1'15]
Track 19 on SIGCD314 [1'29] Download only
No 3: Blow, blow, thou winter wind
Track 3 on CDA66878 [2'13]
Track 20 on SIGCD314 [2'33] Download only

Track-specific metadata for SIGCD314 track 19

O mistress mine
Recording date
1 January 2011
Recording venue
Conservatoire de la Ville de Luxembourg, Luxembourg
Recording producer
Maurice Barnich
Recording engineer
Maurice Barnich
Hyperion usage
  1. Vaughan Williams, Finzi & Quilter: Whither must I wander? & other songs (SIGCD314)
    Disc 1 Track 19
    Release date: December 2012
    Download only
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