A plethora of jewel like offerings...
It struck me, that over the years I have encountered many beautiful and extraordinary little gems of music which I’ve performed a few times and then they have been tucked away and largely ignored. So I plan to go a rummaging and to give some of these little treasures an airing.
This will also be a showcase for some of my favourite contemporary songs, works written for me and maybe songs yet to be written…
The wonderful Andrew West – my long term accompanist and buddy – has kindly agreed to twinkle with me in presenting these jewels for your appreciation.
Bird of Paradise
When I was at Reading University my professor of Music was Peter Wishart. He and his wife Maureen Lehane were huge influences on me, in fostering my love of Handel and of modern music. He encouraged me to sing his songs and gave me a huge pile of his music which I sang vigorously as a youngster. It is lovely to revisit them now. Bird of Paradise is one of my favourite songs of his – I don’t think it is even published. With poem by Robert Graves.
At sunset, only to his true love,
The bird of paradise opened wide its wings.
Displaying emerald plumage, shot with gold unguessed- even by him.
True, that gold crest had blazoned Royal Estate and the tropic flowers through which he flew
Had shown advantage to what brave colours gallantry might flaunt.
But these were other.
She asked herself, trembling “What did I do, to awake such glory?”
Another bird – this one is published by Stainer and Bell. Poem by James McAuley, music by Peter Wishart.
The Magpie’s mood is never surly,
Every morning waking early
He gargles music in his throat.
The liquid squabble of it’s note
The silver stridency of sound
The light confusions and the round bell cadences are pealed over the frosty half-ploughed field.
Then swooping down self confidently
From the fence post or the tree
He swaggers in pied feather coat
And slips fat worms down his throat.