Saturday, May 17, 2008

Songs Without Singers #5

Installment #5 of Songs Without Singers was recorded in true piano blogging fashion - a spur-of-the-moment chance to get into the recital hall on a rainy graduation morning (today) provided the opportunity. I had to pull out two 9-foot grands to get my hands on the right one, and it was a race against time before faculty began showing up for the robing, etc. I wanted to get this recorded last weekend in honor of my son's baptism, which took place on May 11, but lack of access to in-tune pianos proved a hindrance. (Not that it kept me from recording my first two SWS!) Speaking of intentions: dating back to the baptism of my oldest, I've had the idea of bringing in a soprano to sing Lee Hoiby's The Lamb for the service, but I never made it happen. Oh well. So, this is for all three of the little lambs who make my life so delightful.

I think this is pretty much a perfect song - yeah, the musical language is a little sappy, but this is where we invoke that important law of aesthetics that says "Who cares? It's beautiful." I like a lot of Hoiby's songs, but none more than this, and, unlike what I've suggested about some of these songs without singers, I think the sentiment of the music is inseparable from the sentiment of Blake's poetry - so much so that the poem is worth printing as a companion to this piano version. The SWS version can be heard here or in the MMmusic jukebox.

Little Lamb, who made thee
Dost thou know who made thee?
Gave thee life, and bid thee feed,
By the stream and o'er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing woolly, bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice?
Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?

Little Lamb, I'll tell thee,
Little Lamb, I'll tell thee:
He is callèd by thy name,
For He calls Himself a Lamb.
He is meek, and He is mild:
He became a little child.
I a child, and thou a lamb,
We are callèd by His name.
Little Lamb, God bless thee!
Little Lamb, God bless thee!

William Blake, Songs of Innocence

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