Orpheus Records has remastered the Musical Heritage Society LP Shakespeare: The Sweet Power of Musicke for streaming and downloading.

Throughout a couple of dozen tracks the New York Consort of Viols, made up of multi-instrumentalists Fortunato Arico, Lucy Bardo, Judith Davidoff, Grace Feldman, and Alison Fowle, play the centuries old music impeccably, joining soprano Sheila Schonbrun, and harpsichordist Edward Smith in solos and ensembles of instrumental and sung music grouped along with the texts recited by Tom Klunis in four categories: In praise of Music, Love, Death, and Life, reading sonnets of Shakespeare and scenes from Hamlet, Henry VIII, Pericles, Richard II, The Merchant of Venice, The Tempest, and Romeo and Juliet.

The accompanying liner notes and song texts greatly enhance the Orpheus release, aiding the listener to appreciate the variety of dances – pavanes, allemandes, courantes – and songs that range from the earnest to the bawdy, often set to the same all-purpose tunes, as is the case with the well-known Greensleeves, originally a ballad in praise of prostitutes.

Henry VIIIOrpheus with his lute made trees; Richard Dering – Pavan; Robert Johnson – The TempestWhere the bee sucks, there suck I; Anon – Greensleeves; Thomas Lupo – Fantasia; Sonnet 128: How oft, when thou, my music, music playest ; Thomas Tomkins – Barafostus Dreame; PericlesYou are a fair viol, and your sense the strings; Tobias Hume – Touch me lightly ; Romeo and JulietTwo of the fairest stars in all the heaven; Anthony Holborne – Coranto: Heigh Ho Holiday; Anon – When Daphne from fair Phoebus did fly; Thomas Simpson – Bonny Sweet Robin ; Sonnet 116: Let me not to the marriage of true minds; Anon – Fortune my Foe ; Richard IIThey say the tongues of dying men; Tobias Hume – Death; Anon: O Death, Rock Me Asleep ; Romeo and JulietAh, dear Juliet, Why art thou yet so fair?; HamletHow should I your true love know?; Hamlet – They bore him barefaced on the bier; Anon – Robin is to the greene wood gone ; Anthony Holborne – Pavana: Ploravit ; Hamlet – What a piece of work is a man; Tobias Hume: Life; Thomas Ravenscroft – Fantasia; Orlando Gibbons – The Queen’s Command ; Anon -; Whoope, do me no harm; Merchant of VeniceOne is never merry when one hears sweet music; Twelfth NightIf music be the food of love, play on; Thomas Tomkins – Alman

Rafael de Acha © 2022

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