Sonnets to Sundry Notes of Music

Soprano and chamber orchestra: 1.1 percussion, piano/harp,

Duration: 18’

First Performance: Orchestra of the Swan, cond. David Curtis, soprano- Claire Booth, Kingsley College, Redditch, UK

Four songs using Shakespearean text taken from the collection ‘The Passionate Pilgrim’. In between each of the four songs there are instrumental interludes, or perhaps small-scale overtures, which use the same chorale theme as their base and mix material from the forthcoming song. The songs themselves have rather differing characters: The first one (a version of which features in Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost) ‘On a day (alack the day)!’ tells the story of love at first sight; the second ‘Live with me, and be my love’ is a celebration of love; the third ‘As is fell upon a day’ is sorrowful and compares the lover’s pain with that of awounded nightingale and the last ‘Words are easy like the wind’ tells of the fortune of having good friends.

The cycle was awarded the 2007 King’s College Adam Prize. It was commissioned by and dedicated to the Orchestra of the Swan, on the year of their 10th anniversary

Sonnets to Sundry Notes of Music
On a day (alack the day!)
Love, whose month was ever May,
Spied a blossom passing fair,
Playing in the wanton air:
Through the velvet leaves the wind,
All unseen, 'gan passage find;
That the lover, sick to death,
Wish'd himself the heaven's breath.
Air, quoth he, thy cheeks may blow;
Air, would I might triumph so!
But, alas! my hand hath sworn
Ne'er to pluck thee from thy thorn:
Vow, alack, for youth unmeet,
Youth, so apt to pluck a sweet,
Thou for whom Jove would swear
Juno but an Ethiope were;
And deny himself for Jove,
Turning mortal for thy love.
Live with me, and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove,
That hills and valleys, dales and fields,
And all the craggy mountains yields.
There will we sit upon the rocks,
And see the shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow rivers, by whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.
There will I make thee a bed of roses,
With a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroider'd all with leaves of myrtle.
A belt of straw and ivy buds,
With coral clasps and amber studs;
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Then live with me and be my love.
If that the world and love were young,
And truth in every shepherd's tongue,
These pretty pleasures might me move
To live with thee and be thy love.
As it fell upon a day
In the merry month of May,
Sitting in a pleasant shade
Which a grove of myrtles made,
Beasts did leap, and birds did sing,
Trees did grow, and plants did spring;
Everything did banish moan,
Save the nightingale alone:
She, poor bird, as all forlorn,
Lean'd her breast up-till a thorn,
And there sung the dolefull'st ditty,
That to hear it was great pity:
Fie, fie, fie, now would she cry;
Teru, teru, by and by:
That to hear her so complain,
Scarce I could from tears refrain;
All thy fellow-birds do sing,
Careless of thy sorrowing.
Even so, poor bird, like thee,
None alive will pity me.
Words are easy like the wind;
Faithful friends are hard to find.
Every man will be thy friend,
Whilst thou hast wherewith to spend;
But if store of crowns be scant,
No man will supply thy want.
If that one be prodigal,
Bountiful they will him call:
And with such-like flattering,
'Pity but he were a king.'
He that is thy frend indeed,
He will help thee in thy need;
If thou sorrow, he will weep;
If thou wake, he cannot sleep:
Thus of every grief in heart
He with thee doth bear a part.
These are certain signs to know
Faithful friend from flattering foe.


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Tabakova- Sonnets to Sundry Notes of Music
Playing:  Song IV
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