Six Elizabethan Songs (Dominick Argento 90)


Dominick Argento (27 ottobre 1927): Six Elizabethan Songs (1958). Barbara Bonney, soprano; André Previn, pianoforte.


I. Spring (Thomas Nashe, 1567-1601: da Summer’s Last Will and Testament, 1592)

Spring, the sweet Spring, is the year’s pleasant king;
Then blooms each thing, then maids dance in a ring,
Cold doth not sting, the pretty birds do sing,
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!

The palm and may make country houses gay,
Lambs frisk and play, the shepherd pipes all day,
And we hear aye birds tune this merry lay,
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!

The fields breathe sweet, the daisies kiss our feet,
Young lovers meet, old wives a-sunning sit,
In every street these tunes our ears do greet,
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!
Spring! The sweet Spring!


II. Sleep (Samuel Daniel, 1562-1619: da Delia, 1592) [a 1:38]

Care-charmer Sleep, son of the sable Night,
Brother to Death, in silent darkness born,
Relieve my anguish and restore thy light,
With dark forgetting of my cares, return;
And let the day be time enough to mourn
The shipwreck of my ill-adventur’d youth:
Let waking eyes suffice to wail their scorn,
Without the torment of the night’s untruth.
Cease, dreams, th’ images of day-desires
To model forth the passions of the morrow;
Never let rising sun approve you liars,
To add more grief to aggravate my sorrow.
Still let me sleep, embracing clouds in vain;
And never wake to feel the day’s disdain.


III. Winter (William Shakespeare, 1564-1616: da Love’s Labour’s Lost V/2, 1597) [a 4:45]

When icicles hang by the wall
And Dick the shepherd blows his nail,
And Tom bears logs into the hall,
And milk comes frozen home in pail;
When blood is nipt and ways be foul,
Then nightly sings the staring owl:
Tu-who!
Tu-whit! Tu-who! — A merry note!
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

When all aloud the wind doth blow,
And coughing drowns the parson’s saw,
And birds sit brooding in the snow,
And Marian’s nose looks red and raw;
When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl
Then nightly sings the staring owl:
Tu-who!
Tu-whit! Tu-who! — A merry note!
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.


IV. Dirge (Shakespeare: da Twelfth Night II/4, 1602) [a 6:22]

Come away, come away, death,
And in sad cypress let me be laid;
Fly away, fly away, breath;
I am slain by a fair cruel maid.
My shroud of white, stuck all with yew,
O prepare it!
My part of death, no one so true
Did share it.

Not a flower, not a flower sweet,
On my black coffin let there be strown;
Not a friend, not a friend greet
My poor corpse, where my bones shall be thrown:
[A thousand, thousand sighs to save,]
Lay me, O where
Sad true lover never find my grave,
To weep there!


V. Diaphenia (Henry Constable, 1562-1613: Damelus’ Song to his Diaphenia, c1600) [a 9:51]

Diaphenia, like the daffadowndilly,
White as the sun, fair as the lily,
Heigh ho, how I do love thee!
I do love thee as my lambs
Are belovèd of their dams:
How blest were I if thou would’st prove me.

Diaphenia, like the spreading roses,
That in thy sweets all sweets encloses,
Fair sweet, how I do love thee!
I do love thee as each flower
Loves the sun’s life-giving power;
For dead, thy breath to life might move me.

Diaphenia, like to all things blessèd,
When all thy praises are expressèd,
Dear joy, how I do love thee!
As the birds do love the spring,
Or the bees their careful king, —
Then in requite, sweet virgin, love me!


VI. Hymn (Ben Jonson, 1572-1637: Hymn to Diana) [a 11:44]

Queen and huntress, chaste and fair,
Now the sun is laid to sleep,
Seated in thy silver chair,
State in wonted manner keep:
Hesperus entreats thy light,
Goddess excellently bright.

Earth, let not thy envious shade
Dare itself to interpose;
Cynthia’s shining orb was made
Heav’n to clear when day did close;
Bless us then with wishèd sight,
Goddess excellently bright.

Lay thy bow of pearl apart,
And thy crystal shining quiver;
Give unto the flying hart
Space to breathe, how short so-ever:
Thou that mak’st a day of night,
Goddess excellently bright.

(La poesia di Ben Jonson è stata musicata anche da Benjamin Britten: fa parte della Serenade per tenore, corno e archi op. 31, che può essere ascoltata in questa pagina del presente blog.)


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