Do musical settings of Shakespeare risk gilding the lily (or the gingerbread, if that's your preferred cliché)? In one instance at least it's the other way round; surely Finzi's tune for It Was A Lover And His Lass is dragged down by the words. The four verses contain one good line - How that life was but a flower - with the rest encumbered by hey-nonny and ding-a-ding.
Here's an unnamed, no-frills soprano doing her best after being parachuted into a GRAIN SILO. And what about that piano made exclusively from Heinz baked beans tins? They at least deserve A for effort; the sound recordist deserves the treatment accorded to Hamlet's father.
What YouTube takes away, it may also bestow in large measure, and Finzi's reputation gets an out-of-this-world propulsion with this magnificent, definitive version of Fear No More The Heat O' The Sun (Cymbeline) sung by peerless BRYN TERFEL accompanied by Malcolm Martineau. I tell you, boyo, Wales is just down the road from where I live and listening to this inclined me to rush over the border and embrace everyone individually. That voice is beef stroganoff, followed by Christmas pudding, followed by half a stone of bleu d'Auvergne. Rich? It could pay off Greece's debt.
Finally another singer who really deserves the over-used adjective "beloved", jazz-singer CLEO LAINE (pictured) who is eight years older than me. Like Janet Baker she got a damehood not least for the fact that she was Grammy-nominated in three categories: jazz, pop and classical. Here she is singing Our Revels Now Are Ended (The Tempest), arranged by someone or something called Cantabile, and which brings tears to my eyes.