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May 29, 2020


I have worked hard with Purcell (Evening Hymn, Fairest Isle, I attempt from Love's Sickness, My Dearest, My fairest) but cheerily so, knowing there was light at the end of the tunnel. Blinding light, in fact.

I wondered, idly, if he was being short-changed in this comparison with Sumsion who plied his trade in Gloucester just down the road from where I live. To tell the truth, I'd have been surprised if this were the case and your judgment (only implied) was of course confirmed. Apart from being way below my lowest groans the bass line also majors on those jerky figures which I can't say I find entirely congenial unless in a much more diluted form, as in Fairest Isle. I also find it difficult to reconcile some of the critical comments associated with the YouTube clip: "technical humour", "amusing background", "great humorous ditty", "a sort of joke".

Sumsion's setting is of course choral and I agree that he uses repetition inventively. There's a seascape vigour throughout.

I append this comment as a form of penance. Like other Brits I tend to write off Britain's minor composers as being of no-account; due also to Shaw's rather caustic attitude, writing as Corno di Bassetto. This was sprited stuff.

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.