Programme Notes, Texts and Translations

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Lewes Baroquefest: Thursday 18 July 2019

Programme Note by Katie Hawks:

Thomas Tallis (c.1505-85):  Te Lucis ante terminum

John Dowland (1563-1626):  Come heavy sleep.

Orlande de Lassus (c.1532-94):  La Nuict froide  

Cipriano de Rore (c.1515-65):  O Sonno.  

John Wilbye (1574-1638):  Draw on sweet Night.  

Henry Purcell (1659-95): Fairy Queen

– One Charming Night

– Hush No More

An Evening Hymn

George Frederic Handel (1685-1759):  Verdi Allori (Orlando)

The Nightingale Chorus (Solomon)

Georg Philip Telemann (1681-1767):  Cantata for the Times of Day (Evening):

– Wie wird des Grabes Nacht entweichen

– Der Herr ist Gott

Robin Pearsall (1795-1856):  Lay a Garland. 

Johannes Brahms (1833-97):  Nachtwache 1. 

Rheinberger (1839-1901):  Abendlied.  

Eric Whitacre (b.1970):  Sleep. 

Night – the time of lovers, of intrigue, of death; and the inspiration of many of the great pieces of music.  This concert reflects all aspects of night from the renaissance beginnings of what would become the baroque to the reflections on the baroque and renaissance during the following centuries.

The ancient compline hymn ‘Te lucis ante terminum’ shows the darker (so to speak) aspects of night, with its ‘phantasmata’.  Tallis’ weekday setting is from the eve of the Reformation, and shows the new, simpler polyphonic style of those keen to reform, but not break with, Roman Catholicism.  Like most of the greatest Italian renaissance composers, Rore was, in fact, Flemish.  His ‘O Sonno’ is a good example of his extraordinarily dramatic and experimental music.  Lassus had a huge influence on the Venetian style which was in turn to influence European music going into the next century; like Rore’s madrigal, ‘La nuict froide’ is rich in harmony and word-painting.  This sort of dramatic style left its mark on Wilbye, the best of the English madrigalists, as you can hear in his delicious ‘Draw on, sweet Night,’ brimming with word play.  Dowland was a lutenist of European renown, employed for a number of years by King Christian IV of Denmark.  Dowland is particularly well-known for his lute songs, some harmonised for several voices, like the luscious ‘Come heavy sleep.’  

Purcell’s Fairy Queen was the added extras to a Restoration version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Tonight’s excerpts are from the entrance of Night and her followers – Secrecy, who sings the minuet-like ‘One charming night’, and Sleep, who sings ‘Hush, no more,’  a brilliant piece of word-painting.  Purcell’s ‘Evening Hymn’ was written in 1688, to words by William Fuller; like many of his finest songs, it is on a ground bass.  Handel’s Orlando was the first of three operas based on Ariosto’s great epic Orlando Furioso.  Orlando loses his mind out of love for Angelica, but she herself has fallen in love with the young Saracen Medoro.  As they prepare to run away together,  Medoro carves their name on a tree, and sings a beautiful aria.  Handel clearly loved setting birdsong in his music, and the gorgeous ‘May no rash intruder’ puts the Queen of Sheba, and the first act of Solomon, to bed.  Telemann’s cantatas are woefully underperformed.  His glorious Tageszeiten (Times of the Day) is split into four sections representing both the different parts of the day and the stages of life.  Tonight’s excerpts come from the last section, looking forward to life after death.

Brahms, Pearsall and Rheinberger all looked back to the renaissance and baroque for choral inspiration.  Pearsall used Beaumont and Fletcher’s words to compose a gorgeous Wilbye-esque madrigal; Rheinberger’s Abendlied takes words from Melanchthon’s reflection on Luke 24 which Bach also once set.  Brahms’ words are more contemporary, a verse by Friedrich Rückert; his music, while richly romantic, shows his profound love of Bach.  Eric Whitacre is one of the most popular contemporary American choral composers.  ‘Sleep’ was written originally to words by Robert Frost, but the Frost literary estate would not allow him to use the words (a similar thing happened to Elgar!), so he commissioned new words from C. A. Silvestri.  Grounded in the renaissance choral world, ‘Sleep’ also looks to lush romanticism and 20th-century modernism for inspiration.

Texts and Translations:

Te lucis ante terminum, Rerum Creator, poscimus, Ut pro tua clementia, Sis praesul et custodia.
Procul recedant somnia, Et noctium phantasmata: Hostemque nostrum comprime, Ne polluantur corpora. 
Praesta, Pater piissime, Patrique compar Unice, Cum Spiritu Paraclito, Regnans per omne saeculum. Amen.
Before the ending of the day, Creator of the world we pray, That with thy wonted favour thou Wouldst be our guard and keeper now.
From all ill dreams defend our eyes, From nightly fears and fantasies; Tread under foot our ghostly foe, That no pollution we may know.
O Father, that we ask be done, Through Jesus Christ, thine only Son; Who, with the Holy Ghost and thee, Doth live and reign eternally. Amen.
Come heavy sleep, the image of true death; and close up these my weary weeping eyes: Whose spring of tears doth stop my vitall breath, and tears my hart with sorrows sign swoll’n cries: Com and possess my tired thoughts, worne soule, That living dies, till thou on me be stoule.
Come shadow of my end, and shape of rest, Allied to death, child to blakefact night: Come thou and charm these rebels in my breast, Whose waking fancies doe my mind affright. O come sweet sleepe; come, or I die ever: Come ere my last sleep comes, or come never.
La nuict froide et sombre, Couvrant d’obscure ombre La terre et les cieux, Aussi doux que miel, Fait couler du ciel Le sommeil aux yeux.   Puis le jour luisant, Au labeur duisant, Sa lueur expose, Et d’un tein divers, Ce grand univers Tapisse et compose.  The night cold and dark, Covers with gloomy shadow The earth and the skies; Sweet as honey, Pours from the sky Sleep into the eyes.
Then, the gleaming day Leading to labour, Its light spreads. And with diverse tint Drapes and composes This Great Universe. 
Draw on, Sweet Night, friend unto those cares That do arise from painful melancholy. My life so ill through want of comfort fares, that unto thee I consecrate it wholly. Sweet Night, draw on My griefs when they be told to shades and darkness find some ease from paining, And while thou all in silence dost enfold, I then shall have best time for my complaining.   
Secrecy: One charming Night Gives more delight, Than a hundred lucky Days. Night and I improve the tast, Make the pleasure longer last, A thousand, thousand several ways.  
Sleep: Hush, no more, be silent all, Sweet Repose has clos’d her Eyes. Soft as feather’d Snow does fall! Softly, softly, steal from hence. No noise disturb her sleeping sense.  
Now, now that the sun hath veil’d his light
And bid the world goodnight;
To the soft bed my body I dispose,
But where shall my soul repose?
Dear, dear God, even in Thy arms,
And can there be any so sweet security!
Then to thy rest, O my soul!
And singing, praise the mercy
That prolongs thy days.
Verdi allori sempre unito conservate il nostro nome come unito sarà il cor. E poi dite a chi lo miri da qual mano, quando, e come fosse in voi sì ben scolpito Se volete, che sospiri invidiando il nostro amore Green laurels, you will preserve our names, always united, as united are our hearts. And you will tell those who wonder by whose hand, when and how this was carved in you, if you wish; those who sigh, enviously, after our love.
May no rash intruder disturb their soft hours; To form fragrant pillows, arise, oh ye flow’rs! Ye zephirs, soft-breathing, their slumbers prolong, While nightingales lull them to sleep with their song.  
Arie (Aufgeweckt):  Wie wird des Grabes Nacht entweichen,  wenn über Schrecken, Graun und Leichen  des Christen ewger Morgen glänzt! Sein Auge wird den Finsternissen, sein Geist der Sterblichkeit entrissen, und seine Seligkeit ist rein und unbegrenzt. 
Chor:  Der Herr ist Gott, ein Gott von Ehren;  Der Herr ist Gott, ein Gott von Macht.  Der Kreis der Erde muss es hören, ein Tag sag es dem andern Tage und eine Nacht der andern Nacht.
Aria (Brightly):  How will the grave’s dark night flee When the radiance of eternal morn Shines over the Christian’s fright, fear, and corpse.  His eye is snatched from the darkness, His spirit from mortality, And his bliss is pure and unending. 
Chorus:  The Lord is God, a God of glory;  The Lord is God, a God of might.  All creation must hear it; One day tells it to another, And one night to another night.
Lay a garland on her hearse,
Of dismal yew,
Maidens, willow branches bear,
Say she died true.
Her love was false, but she was firm
From her hour of birth;
Upon her buried body lie
Lightly, thou gentle earth. 
Bleib bei uns, denn es will Abend werden, und der Tag hat sich geneiget. Abide with us:  for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.
Leise Töne der Brust, Geweckt vom Odem der Liebe, Hauchet zitternd hinaus, Ob sich euch öffen ein Ohr, öff’n ein liebendes Herz, und wenn sich keines euch öffnet, trag ein Nachtwind euch seufzend in meines zurück. Soft sounds of the soul,  inspired by the breath of love, whisper quaveringly hence;  if you open an ear, open a loving heart; if none should opens for you, let the night wind lift you sighing back to me.
The evening hangs beneath the moon A silver thread on darkened dune With closing eyes and resting head I know that sleep is coming soon Upon my pillow, safe in bed A thousand pictures fill my head I cannot sleep my minds a flight And yet my limbs seem made of lead If there are noises in the night A frighting shadow, flickering light Then I surrender unto sleep Where clouds of dreams give second sight What dreams may come both dark and deep Of flying wings and soaring leap As I surrender unto sleep.