Shakespeare set to music: success or failure?
One notable success for my money is Feste’s song from Twelfth Night:
O Mistress mine, where are you roaming?
O, stay and hear; your true love's coming,
That can sing both high and low:
Trip no further, pretty sweeting;
Journeys end in lovers meeting,
Every wise man's son doth know.
The trouble is I’m not alone. Apart from Quilter, Finzi, Arne, Arne (arr, Grainger), Morley and Stanford every high school in the US has helped choke out YouTube with its own setting, some not too dusty. But not alas the version pinging round my head, recorded by Janet Baker aeons ago and unamenable directly via Google Video.
The technique is to Google the song title conventionally, linked to Janet Baker. Time after time I came so close only to be forestalled by lack of composer attribution. Eventually the door opened on Charles Hubert Hastings Parry, a great tunesmith if nothing else, author of Jerusalem and the hymn, Dear Lord and Father of Mankind. A Janet Baker confirmation was unavailable but there are specialist CD retailers who offer downloads of individual tracks, supported by a browsing function.
And there – Oh bliss! – churned out by a nondescript tenor, I had it. As a reward to you all here’s the rest of Feste:
What is love? 'Tis not hereafter;
Present mirth hath present laughter…
What's to come is still unsure:
In delay there lies not plenty;
Then, come kiss me, sweet and twenty,
Youth's a stuff will not endure.
In effect Donne’s lady going to bed, but without the sweat and twisted sheets. More on musical Shakespeare (with examples) in the future. Not least the bit that inspired Uberliedmeister Schubert. Click here for Dame Janet (then Download followed by Run). Can recommend The Well-Digger's Daughter, a first-rate French feel-good movie.