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Shakespeare's Theatre Music


Release Date: 04/29/2008 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8570708  
Composer:  Robert JohnsonAnthony HolborneJohn DowlandThomas Greaves,   ... 
Performer:  Gerald PlaceDorothy LinellRebecca Hickey
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

The very first settings of such famous poetry in pleasing performances.

Magic, comedy, feasting or pathos. Here are thirty or so settings from Shakespeare’s lifetime by Morley, Johnson, Dowland, Byrd, Ferrabosco and others, including lyrics set to ballad tunes that would have been very familiar to the actors in his company.

That music was important to Shakespeare is quite clear from the sheer quantity of songs and ditties required or quoted in the texts. Several very well known composers knew and seemed to have worked for him; not least Thomas Morley and Robert Johnson. The latter was often called ‘Shakespeare’s Lutenist’. Both probably wrote for the first performances of the plays. John Wilson - known as
Read more ‘Jack’ when a youngster - seems, according to the interesting booklet notes by Gerald Place, who sings tenor here, to have been one of the boy choristers/actors who sang in these early performances. Later he made his own settings of these famous texts. In addition, Shakespeare often expected traditional songs to be used. He quotes them: Ophelia in Hamlet comes out with some quite scurrilous folksongs - like ‘Tomorrow shall be St. Valentine’s Day’ - during her mad scene.

But why was music important? First, it made a contrast and divided up the scenes. It offered opportunities for poetry. Also, as David Lindley says in his recent Arden Shakespeare publication (‘Shakespeare and Music’, Thomson Learning, 2006, p.36): “the emphasis was upon forceful representations of the emotions of the words in solo song and monody”.

Not surprisingly this very rich repertoire has been much chewed over and recorded; I mean the original songs not the much later settings. One of my favourite recordings I purchased, curiously enough in ‘Past Times’ several years ago. It will serve as a useful yardstick. Called ‘Songs and Dances from Shakespeare’ (CDSDL 409) it featured the ‘Broadside Band’. It has several advantages over this new version. Dividing the disc into seven themed sections, the vocal items are split up not by the single-coloured sound of solo lute but by a mix of instruments which constitute Jeremy Barlow’s ensemble. Secondly it features the rather lugubrious but very expressive singing of John Potter and then the light touch of Deborah Roberts’s soprano.

The version under review here divides the songs into four sections. These are separated by lute solos such as the charming ‘Greensleeves divisions’ by the little known Francis Cutting. Greensleeves is mentioned in ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor’ as well as other plays. However I can’t say that I am too keen on Dorothy Linell’s renditions. She seems to me a little diffident and lacking in expression. As for the singers, they have very pleasant, light and suitable voices - ideal for this music. They lack that obtrusive vibrato which is so unsuitable in this repertoire but they seem to be so uninvolved. It seems that they are singing to themselves and almost as if they are just going through the motions. Surely even such familiar songs and traditional melodies need more passion and feeling. The audience is left with a sense of it all being very pleasant, very English, but not in any way exciting. Their diction is clear and the balance with the lute excellent. That’s all to the good as no texts are supplied.

Will I be keeping a place on my shelf for this CD? Well, no, but if this music were a new discovery for me then this disc offers a chance to get to know the very first settings of such famous poetry in pleasing performances. All this is offered at the usual Naxos superbudget price.

-- Gary Higginson, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Hark, hark! the lark by Robert Johnson
Performer:  Gerald Place (Tenor), Dorothy Linell (Lute)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1609; England 
2.
When daffodils begin to peer by Anthony Holborne
Performer:  Gerald Place (Tenor), Dorothy Linell (Lute)
3.
When daisies pied by Anthony Holborne
Performer:  Rebecca Hickey (Soprano), Dorothy Linell (Lute)
4.
Fortune my foe by John Dowland
Performer:  Dorothy Linell (Lute)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
5.
Fear no more the heat o' the sun by Thomas Greaves
Performer:  Gerald Place (Tenor), Dorothy Linell (Lute)
6.
Lawn as white as the driven snow by John Wilson
Performer:  Gerald Place (Tenor), Dorothy Linell (Lute)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 17th Century; England 
7.
Kemp's Jig by John Wilson
Performer:  Gerald Place (Recorder)
8.
Callino by John Wilson
Performer:  Dorothy Linell (Lute)
9.
First Booke of Ayres: It was a lover and his lasse by Thomas Morley
Performer:  Rebecca Hickey (Soprano), Dorothy Linell (Lute)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 1600; England 
10.
When that I was and a little tine boy by Traditional
Performer:  Gerald Place (Tenor), Dorothy Linell (Lute)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
11.
How should I your true love know? by William Byrd
Performer:  Rebecca Hickey (Soprano), Dorothy Linell (Lute)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
12.
Bonny sweet Robin, MB 106 by William Byrd
Performer:  Dorothy Linell (Lute)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
13.
Tomorrow is St. Valentine's Day by William Byrd
Performer:  Rebecca Hickey (Soprano), Dorothy Linell (Lute)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
14.
And will he not come again? by William Byrd
Performer:  Rebecca Hickey (Soprano), Dorothy Linell (Lute)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
15.
In youth when I did love by William Byrd
Performer:  Gerald Place (Tenor), Dorothy Linell (Lute)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
16.
Tarletones riserrectione, P 59 by John Dowland
Performer:  Dorothy Linell (Lute)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
17.
Hey, jolly Robin by John Dowland
Performer:  Rebecca Hickey (Soprano), Dorothy Linell (Lute)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
18.
The poor soul sat sighing "Willow Song" by John Dowland
Performer:  Rebecca Hickey (Soprano), Dorothy Linell (Lute)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
19.
O mistress mine, where are you roaming by Thomas Morley
Performer:  Gerald Place (Tenor), Dorothy Linell (Lute)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
20.
Come away Death by Thomas Morley
Performer:  Gerald Place (Tenor), Dorothy Linell (Lute)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
21.
Divisions on "Greensleeves" by Francis Cutting
Performer:  Dorothy Linell (Lute)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; England 
22.
Farewell, dear love by Robert Jones
Performer:  Gerald Place (Tenor), Dorothy Linell (Lute)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
23.
Packington's Pound by Robert Jones
Performer:  Dorothy Linell (Lute)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
24.
Take, o take those lips away by John Wilson
Performer:  Gerald Place (Tenor), Dorothy Linell (Lute)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 17th Century; England 
25.
O sweet Oliver by John Wilson
Performer:  Dorothy Linell (Lute), Gerald Place (Tenor), Rebecca Hickey (Soprano)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
26.
Light o' love by John Wilson
Performer:  Dorothy Linell (Lute)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
27.
Who is Sylvia? by Alfonso (II) Ferrabosco
Performer:  Gerald Place (Tenor), Dorothy Linell (Lute)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
28.
The Sick Tune by Alfonso (II) Ferrabosco
Performer:  Dorothy Linell (Lute)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
29.
Sigh no more ladies by Robert Jones
Performer:  Gerald Place (Tenor), Dorothy Linell (Lute)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
30.
Come live with me, and be my love by William Corkine
Performer:  Gerald Place (Tenor), Dorothy Linell (Lute)
Period: Renaissance 
31.
When grypinge griefes by Richard Edwards
Performer:  Gerald Place (Tenor), Dorothy Linell (Lute)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; England 
32.
O Death rock me asleep by Richard Edwards
Performer:  Rebecca Hickey (Soprano), Dorothy Linell (Lute)
33.
Heartsease by Richard Edwards
Performer:  Dorothy Linell (Lute)
34.
You spotted snakes by Richard Edwards
Performer:  Rebecca Hickey (Soprano), Dorothy Linell (Lute)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
35.
The woozel cock by Richard Edwards
Performer:  Gerald Place (Tenor), Dorothy Linell (Lute)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
36.
Full fathom five by Robert Johnson
Performer:  Gerald Place (Tenor), Dorothy Linell (Lute)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1611; England 
37.
My Lady Hunsdons Puffe, P 54 by John Dowland
Performer:  Dorothy Linell (Lute)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
38.
Where the bee sucks by Robert Johnson
Performer:  Gerald Place (Tenor), Dorothy Linell (Lute)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 17th Century; England 

Sound Samples

Hark, hark! the lark: Hark, Hark! The Lark
When Daffodils Begin to Peer (arr. G. Place): When Daffodils Begin to Peer
When Daisies Pied
Fortune my foe, P. 62: Fortune
Fear No More the Heat o' the Sun (arr. G. Place): Fear No More the Heat o' the Sun
Lawn as White as Driven Snow
Kemp's Jig
Callino
The First Book of Ayres or Little Short Songs: It was a lover and his lasse: It Was a Lover and His Lass
When That I Was
How Should I Your True Love Know?
Bonny Sweet Robin
Tomorrow is St. Valentine's Day: Tomorrow is St Valentine's Day
And Will He Not Come Again?
In Youth When I Did Love
Tarleton's Resurrection, P. 59: Tarleton's Resurrection
Hey, Jolly Robin
The Poor Soul Sat Sighing, "Willow Song"
The First Book of Ayres or Little Short Songs: O Mistress Mine
Come Away Death
4 Divisions on popular tunes: Divisions on Greensleeves
Farewell Dear Heart
Packington's Pound
Take, O Take Those Lips Away
O Sweet Oliver
Light o' Love
Who is Sylvia? (arr. G. Place): Who is Sylvia?
The Sick Tune
Sigh No More Ladies (arr. G. Place): Sigh No More Ladies
Come Live With Me
When Griping Grief
O Death Rock Me Asleep
Heartsease
You Spotted Snakes
The Woozel Cock
Full fathom five: Full Fathom Five
Lady Hunsdon's Puffe, P. 54: My Lady Hunsdon's Puff
Where the bee sucks

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