September Song

Not the Weill/Anderson/Sinatra version – fine though it is – but, to end this short concert series, we have a September Song by Richard Strauss that’s nearly (or arguably, just) as famous. It’s preceded by two separate and very different musical days of high Summer, one from America, one from Bohemia; plus – in case […]

Hills (blue remembered and other)

On the idle hill of summer,Sleepy with the flow of streams… Concert: A. E. Housman’s dark rural world in A Shropshire Lad, with its contrasts of pastoral beauty and human tragedy, finds its musical equivalent in the work of George Butterworth; firstly, in Butterworth’s settings of Housman’s verse for voice and piano and then in […]

Reis glorios

Five pieces for the Summer sunrise: Concert: First, Reis glorios (Glorious King), a 12th century alba by Guiraut de Bornelh, who was styled the ‘master of the troubadours’. The alba (Occitan) or alborada (Spanish) or aubade (French) is a dawn song. After the (hopeful, on the part of the singer, anyway) seduction of the evening […]

Hesperus, the evening star

It should have been an icon, but – though it may seem something of a cultural mismatch (and a measure of my irretrievably muddled intellect(??)) – the stained glass of Chartres (it’s the South Transept you see above) and Rachmaninoff’s All Night Vigil (aka Vespers) seem to have an active stillness and a numinous quality […]

Requiem: Requiescat in pace?

Unusually, it’s the pace (peace) word that’s predominant in Fauré’s setting of the Requiem, the Mass for the Dead. Many composers – Mozart, Berlioz, Verdi, to name but the most famous – seem to have taken a certain grisly and theatrical delight in portraying the terrors of the Day of Judgement as depicted in the […]

Duparc

Fauré wasn’t the only gifted composer of mélodies of his generation; Henri Duparc (1848 – 1933) is also (justly) famous for his talents as a song composer. Duparc, like his younger Austrian contemporary, Hugo Wolf, only produced a handful of music before – again like Wolf – he succumbed to a mental illness that forced […]

Mélodie Maker

The English language, famed for the expansiveness of its vocabulary, is rather surprisingly coy when it comes to the idea of song. Sure, you can have all sorts of songs, but you generally need some type of qualifier to tell your listeners or readers whether you’re referring to a pop song, art song, folk song […]