Saturday, August 13, 2005

The Ultimate Shakespeare Mix CD

er, sorta. All that digging I did at the library was to no avail. They do not have the Twelfth Night soundtrack (!!). Nothing but counter-tenors and Italian operas. So I went through my CD collection and came up with quite a lot of English trad. I am such a geek.
Anyway, as requested, here is the track listing:

1. "Over Hill, Over Dale" -- Ralph Vaughn Williams. A Midsummer's Night Dream, II. i.
2. "Where the Bee Sucks" -- The Deller Consort. The Tempest V.i I've had to make do with a few counter-tenor tracks that are halfway decent. Composed by Robert Johnson in the 17th century.
3. "In May, That Lusty Season" -- Libana. Traditional Renaissance song, performed by a lovely women's choral group.
4. Departe, Departe/The Cobbler's Hornpipe/Third Act Tune -- Ensemble Galilei. I've seen them in concert and they're a fantastic early music group. This track is from their album Come, Gentle Night: Music of Shakespeare's World, which I liked so much I burned the whole thing. The first tune is 17th century French, the second is English trad, the third by Henry Purcell, written for a 17th century performance of Midsummer.
5. The Winter's Tale Set (Love's Winter Light/Apples in Winter/Drive the Cold Winter Away/Jenny Pluck Pears) -- Ensemble Galilei. More English trad, and the best rendition of "Jenny Pluck Pears" I've ever heard.
6. The King of Denmark's Galliard/Mrs. Winter's Jump -- Shelley Phillips. The first is by Dowland, the second a country dance tune.
7. The King -- Loreena McKennitt. English trad.

We have powder and shot to conquer the lot
We have cannon and ball to conquer them all.

Good for the histories, I thought.
8. "He that will an alehouse keep" -- The Deller Consort. English trad, blissfully counter-tenor free. And you've got to have a track for Falstaff.
9. "When that I was" --The Deller Consort. Twelfth Night V.i. I'm just going to have to live with irony of a grown man trying to sound like a 10 year old boy singing about how he's a grown man. But this is one my favorite Shakespeare songs, so I couldn't not include it. But I wanted Ben Kingsley's performance of it, godammit!
10. Sigh No More, Ladies -- Patrick Doyle. Much Ado About Nothing II. iii. Doyle has a cameo as Balthazar in the movie, and he's got a lovely, proper tenor voice. With a nifty Irish accent to boot.
11. "O Mistress Mine" -- The Deller Consort. Twelfth Night II. iii. Sigh. Oh, Ben Kingsley! What might have been!
12. Scarborough Fayre -- The Mediaeval Baebes. I always thought this would have been one of the songs Ophelia sings in her madness. And this rendition gives me shivers.
13. The Woods and Rivers are Silent -- Mediaeval Baebes. Torquato Tasso, 16th century Italian. The Romeo and Juliet track; the lyrics translate as:

The woods and the river are silent,
And the waveless sea is at rest;
In their caves the winds are at truce and peace,
And in the dark night
The white moon creates lofty silence;
And we keep hidden
The sweetnesses of love:
Let love not speak or breathe,
Let kisses be soundless, and soundless my sighs.

14. Greensleeves -- Loreena McKennitt doing Tom Waits doing King Henry VIII, in the process turning a well-worn courtly love ballad into a heartbreaking lament. Good for the sonnets and all the star-crossed and scorned lovers.
15. Pardon, Goddess of the Night -- Patrick Doyle. Much Ado V. iii.
16. Double Trouble -- John Williams, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban soundtrack. Macbeth IV. i
17. Twa Corbies -- Boiled in Lead. Scots trad, and the creepiest version I've ever heard. All the ghosts, battles, and gruesome bits.
Ye'll sit on his white hause-bane
And I'll pike oot his bonny blue een
Wi ae lock o his gowden hair-o
We'll theek our nest when it grow bare-o
Theek our nest when it grows bare

18. This Ay Nicht -- Mediaeval Baebes. English trad. More creepiness.

When thou from hence away do fall
Every night and all
To brigger dread thou kommst at last
And Christ recieve thy soul

19. Cymbeline -- Loreena McKennitt. Cymbeline IV. ii. Fear no more the heat o' the sun...
20. Full Fathom Five -- Maev. Tempest I. ii. Everybody and their brother decides to do "full fathom" when they take it into their heads to sing Shakespeare, but this is the best version I've heard. She actually sounds like the ethereal Otherworldly creature that Ariel's supposed to be, not like a bunch of wandering madrigal singers. Though Vaughn Williams' version is good too.
21. "Those Cloud-capp'd Towers" -- Ralph Vaughn Williams. Tempest IV i. We are such stuff as dreams are made on... Huzzah for English choirboys!
22. The Bonny Swans -- Loreena McKennitt. For whatever reason the "Cruel Sister" ballads are one of my favorite English trad tunes. It's just an intriguing combination of random violence, surreal fantasy, and gothic morbidness. There's a million versions, but I chose this one because the refrain is the appropriately Shakespearean "Hey ho and a bonny-o ".
23. The Mummer's Dance -- Loreena McKennitt.
We've been rambling all the night
And some time of this day
Now returning back again
we bring a garland gay
This one fits with all those lovers getting lost in the woods.
24. Lhiannan Shee -- Mediaeval Baebes. English trad. Okay, pretty much an excuse for more MB, but also works for all the fairy mischief in Midsummer. The song's actually in Manx gaelic.
25. Prospero's Speech -- Loreena McKennitt. Tempest V.i. Now my charms are all o'er thrown...

So it's really more of a Music to Read Shakespeare By mix. But I'm pleased with it. I've got quite a bit to catch up on, since I don't read the plays until I've seen them first. Which is a bit of a problem with the more obscure ones (I had to read Troilus and Cressida for class, but you're not missing anything. Though it is notable for the bit where Patroclus is accused of being Achilles' "man-whore"). But you get to see some interesting stuff, if you're willing to hunt them down; like John Cleese as Petruchio in a 1980s BBC adaptation of Taming of the Shrew. Which is really the only reason to watch Taming, in my opinion.


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