It might be convenient for students of Shakespeare to have some readily accessible recodings of Shakespeare songs in performance. These are taken off old vinyl LP's, some of them no longer obtainable
1. Robert Johnson (music) / Shakespeare (text): The Tempest Song: Where the bee sucks
2. Johnson/Shakespeare, Song: 'Full fathom five'
3. Song: 'Callino (Caleno) custore me' : The Ancient Pistol, of all characters, cites this refrain line among his tags.
4. Anon. (music) / Shakespeare (?) text: Twelfth Night Song: Peg-a-Ramsay
5. Thomas Morley (music) / Shakespeare (text): As You like it Song: It was a lover and his lass
6. Thomas Morley (music) / Shakespeare (text): Twelfth night Song: O mistress mine
7. Deller continues with a ravishing performance of 'Take, O take those lips away', the song performed by the boy for Mariana in Measure for Measure, in that moment of purity and yearning before the text plunges us back into the belly of the state, and Vienna's prison. The more erotic second stanza to the song, either left out by Shakespeare, or added by John Fletcher, is also given, unfortunately in a bowdlerised text (you will hear 'blossom' for 'bosom').
MP3's B, C and D
The James Bowman/James Tyler LP I have excerpted from was 'Songs in Shakespeare's Plays' (1978) (Archiv Produktion, 2533 407). I have taken B'O Mistress Mine', 'Lawn as white as driven snow', C'Hark, hark the lark' and D'Farewell, Dear Heart'. The eminent scholar (musicologist) Frederick Sternfeld provided the sleeve notes. He points out that: 'two types of singing voices were at the command of the playwright: adult singers and boys'. Boy members of Shakespeare's company would be apprenticed to older actors, who were sometimes themselves members of the musician's guild (there was no guild for actors). The wills of senior actors sometimes show them leaving musical instruments to such apprentices. A high standard of attainment was to be expected. Recall that the musicians of the company played for up to an hour before the start of performances.
Sternfeld also notes that there is no proof that Shakespeare and Morley actually collaborated to produce 'O Mistress Mine' and 'It was a Lover and his Lass'.
This mp3, 'Farewell unkind, Farewell, to me no more a Father' is tangential to Shakespeare. It comes from John Dowland's Third Book of Songs, 1603, and here is performed by the peerless Emma Kirkby. But, to hear such a good piece of music, it is possible to imagine a later performance of The Merchant of Venice giving such a song to Jessica, or playing the air after her elopement with Lorenzo.
MP3 F In a similar vein, 'Come Sorrow, come':
might be a song that we can imagine being performed between acts in some later plush revival of Hamlet, triggered by the tradition of the musical Ophelia ('Enter Ofelia playing on a Lute, and her haire downe singing', reads the 1603 First Quarto text). Here, performed again by Emma Kirkby, accompanied by the viols of the Consort of Musicke.
MP3's G and H Finally, two longer mp3's from one of the first English Operas, Matthew Locke's version (with other composers) of the Dryden-Shadwell version of 'The Tempest (1674).
Music from a Restoration adaptation of Shakespeare, one seen by Dryden as the first English Opera. The 1667 Davenant/Dryden version of the play had been re-worked by Thomas Shadwell, with scenic and musical additions. Matthew Locke was the main composer, with Giovanni Battista Draghi. In the excerpts, the setting of 'Full Fathom Five' and 'Come unto these yellow sands' was by John Banister, and the echo-dialogue between Ferdinand and Ariel, 'Go thy ways'. Pelham Humphrey set 'Where the bee sucks', and the actor John Hart contributed 'Adieu to the pleasures' for Miranda's sister Dorinda. The excerpts are from Oiseau-Lyre DSLO 507 (1977), with The Academy of Ancient Music, led by Christopher Hogwood. Emma Kirkby sings 'Full Fathom Five', Judith Nelson 'Come unto these yellow sands', 'Where the bee sucks' and 'Adieu to the passions' .
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