Charles Tomlinson Griffes: An Old Song Re-sung

23 03 2009

I

"The summer wind was failing and the tall ship rolled"

A grand pirate ship sails by and the crew drinks merrily. For whatever reason, the ship begins to sink, but the crew takes no notice. Finally, the ship goes under and only the floating bottles remain, clinking against one another. Griffes captured all these moments deftly in this gem.

As a young singer, I patterned my voice after singers I liked the sound of. Before formal study, it was David Gayne of Depeche Mode; when I started singing in earnest, I copied Thomas Hampson, to the point my teacher regularly reminded me, “Stop trying to sound like him!” This piece shows well what I liked about him — the dedication to the text paired with a warm but powerful vocal instrument capable of an extremely wide range of dynamics and colors.

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Ludwig van Beethoven: Come draw we round a cheerful ring, from Irish songs, WoO 152, No. 11

17 03 2009

No, Gossip Winter, snug within, we have no room for thee.

"No, Gossip Winter, snug within, we have no room for thee."

One of the hallmarks of the Irish is their love of stories, music, and community. Though not Irish, Beethoven caught the festive mood of a celebration in this catchy tune.

Beethoven wrote three sets of Irish songs for voice and string trio at the behest of Scottish folk song collector and publisher George Thomson. The songs range from quick and lively to heart-rendingly touching.

As it is St. Patrick’s day, I was searching for musical scores of Irish music this morning. Since I couldn’t find the Beethoven songs, I offer instead an online volume of Sixty Irish Songs, edited by William Arms Fisher.