Is it thy will, thy image should keep open

 In this fourth sonnet from Tchaikowsky’s Seven Shakespeare Sonnets the piano opens with notes quietly dripping like a tap that keeps you awake at night. The voice soon intimates that the speaker is suffering from insomnia due to questions that keep “my heavy eyelids” from sleeping. At first it seems that the sleep-deprived speaker is unable to get any rest due …

Against that time, if ever that time come

This sonnet looks to the future to a time when the love affair will be properly in the past. The speaker takes full responsibility for the disintegration of the relationship even though it is the beloved that leaves, avoiding the speaker’s eye. Despite the speaker’s seeming innocence, it is the beloved that is stripped of all guilt and forgiven in …

So are you to my thoughts as food to life

 In complete contrast to the languid atmosphere of the opening Sonnet, the second song in Tchaikowsky’s septych opens with a gust of notes in the piano, which sweeps the voice into motion. Tchaikowsky’s setting reflects the manic emotions depicted in Shakespeare’s text and the voice and piano interweave the one moment and unravel the next. The inner torment of the …

To me fair friend, you never can be old

André Tchaikowsky composed the Seven Shakespeare Sonnets in 1967 for mezzo-soprano Margaret Cable (pictured here with André Tchaikowsky). Their paths crossed at the Dartington Festival and Tchaikowsky was so taken by Cable’s talent that he immediately set to work to compose these songs for her. The sonnets that Tchaikowsky chose for this set of seven songs are not the most …

An Interview with Clare McCaldin

Preparations for the André Tchaikowsky   Symposium at Leeds College is well underway. The day’s programme has been typed and proofread. I have met with Sebastian Müller and Alfia Nakipbekova for a rehearsal of the Trio Notturno. The Piano Sonata (1958) is kept on the go.  Great excitement and inspiration ensued when mezzo-soprano Clare McCaldin and I met for the first time yesterday for …

The Fox and the Raven

Aesop/De La Fontaine: Le Corbeau & Le Renard The story of the fox and the crow originates from the ancient greek story teller, Aesop. This fable has been depicted in various pathways of art including tapestry, architecture and music through the ages. These fables have found their way into specifically the French literature and culture via the pen of Jean …

When Roses Bloom

Recently I was asked by Leeds Lieder+ to provide some programme notes for the recital by the Kathleen Ferrier Competition Winner Recital. One of the sets of songs to be performed by Natalya Romaniw and Elizabeth Rossiter in Leeds on 6 June 2013 will be Edvard Grieg’s Sechs Lieder, op. 48. At the end I include a recent performance by the …

Painted in Honey

Jean-Antoine Watteau – Les Plaisirs du Bal Following the death of the Louis XIV of France (Le Roi-Soleil – The Sun King) aristocracy abandoned the grandeur of Versailles for the intimacy of the townhouses of Paris. In this more relaxed environment, the aristocratic revellers could flirt and play, and act out scenes of the commedia dell’arte. In its essence commedia dell’arte creates …