Wednesday 27 June 2012

Lucky Day

This one's dedicated to Brooklyn Girl, Brooklyn Baby (who loved this record when she was little), Miriam, Tina, Legrand Sidney Doggett, and the acai berry. The Revelers' skillful close-harmony singing and the arrangement may be as dated as a 1926 Victrola, but the sentiment expressed is as genuine today as ever.

Friday 22 June 2012

Where Corals Lie

When the glorious mezzo-soprano Janet Baker and conductor John Barbirolli recorded Elgar's Sea Pictures in 1965, it was one of those rare moments when the right music found its ideal interpreters at the peak of their powers. With the stars thus in proper alignment, magic happened.

First performed in 1899, Sea Pictures is a cycle of five songs, with texts by five different poets. I don't love the five equally. In Haven, with words by Caroline Alice Elgar, the composer's wife, is a beauty. Where Corals Lie is my favorite. I hope your computer speakers are good enough to pick up Elgar's orchestral touches as brought out by Barbirolli, especially the woodwind accents and the luminous way the cellos double the vocal line in the second stanza.

The poem Where Corals Lie was written by Richard Garnett. Here's the text, with Elgar's repeats:

The deeps have music soft and low
When winds awake the airy spry,
It lures me, lures me on to go
And see the land where corals lie.
The land where corals lie.

By mount and mead, by lawn and rill,
When night is deep, and moon is high,
That music seeks and finds me still,
And tells me where the corals lie.
And tells me where the corals lie.

Yes, press my eyelids close, 'tis well,
Yes, press my eyelids close, 'tis well,
But far the rapid fancies fly
To rolling worlds of wave and shell,
And all the land where corals lie.

Thy lips are like a sunset glow,
Thy smile is like a morning sky,
Yet leave me, leave me, let me go
And see the land where corals lie.
The land, the land where corals lie.