Skip to content

Cold Genius

February 27, 2015

Consider Camelot. And this, the gently romantic title song as performed by Richard Burton.

In the show it’s sung by King Arthur, naturally, and you couldn’t imagine a musical about Camelot in which Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot don’t have the pick of the songs to sing.

And then consider something else: Purcell’s opera King Arthur. It’s not an opera in true form, but what is often described as a ‘semi opera’, one feature of which is that most of the serious dramatic performances  – in other words the principle characters – rarely if ever have any music.

There are plenty of songs. You can call them arias if you must, but since the structure of these works is much closer to the modern musical than grand opera, I think ‘songs’ is more descriptive, and was the term often used by criticks [sic] at the time. But the convention is that the songs were given to minor characters, or sometimes allegorical or supernatural ones.

Purcell’s King Arthur has little in common with the familiar chivalric legends. It doesn’t even have Guinevere – unless some strange Cornish pronunciation renders Emmeline (the name of Arthur’s intended) and Guinevere phonetically similar.

What it does have is this: What power art thou?the song of the Cold Genius, the Spirit of Winter. Electrifying and atmospheric, it’ll have you reaching for a scarf and woolly hat. It’s simply magnificent. I love the name Cold Genius – I’d use it to describe the same piece today even allowing for the 300 years in which “genius” has come to bear a meaning quite different to that which it bore when the work was written.

Finally, a quick thought for a chilly weekend, since we are nothing if not informative here at sss. Here’s a lovely piece by Purcell’s lesser known younger brother. Daniel Purcell’s Magnificat demonstrates a considerable talent in itself, being rich and at the same time fresh and accessible.

I feel for Daniel. High-achieving siblings: who’d have ’em, eh?.

Advertisements

From → Uncategorized

One Comment

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Tintagel | simonsometimessays

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

the dancing professor

building back the habit of writing, one day at a time

Eric Schlehlein, Author

(re)Living History, with occasional attempts at humor and the rare pot-luck subject. Sorry, it's BYOB. All I have is Hamm's.

Janh1: Mainly fair with occasional rain.

Mediocre revelations of a part-time hedonist.

fionaok's Blog

The greatest WordPress.com site in all the land!

Sian is Me

A library of thoughts

Dave's Corner of the Universe

Where strange fact and stranger fiction collide

The COR

Concert, Opera, Recital

Walk the Self-Talk

Breathing Life into Thoughts

Don Charisma

because anything is possible with Charisma

Interesting Literature

A Library of Literary Interestingness

DIS CRIS

Just Click It

Vows

Nominated for The Deli Magazines Artist of The Month

tanja stark

art words ideas

MarLa Sink Druzgal

Writer. Photographer. Literary Traveler.

Fasting, Food and other musings by determined34

This is a blog started with a 'reboot your life' 3 day challenge and has developed into random posts about family, travel, food, life and other adventures

LoveLee Adulting

Take the journey to Adulthood with me.

Classical Conditioning

Let's talk about classical music

Every record tells a story

A Blog About Music, Vinyl, More Music and (Sometimes) Music...

Bucket List Publications

Indulge- Travel, Adventure, & New Experiences

Inside Croydon

Living life on the fringes of London

patchmanblog

The greatest WordPress.com site in all the land!

palisadespete

10 Facts to Get You Started

notabarrister - thoughts from the clerk's room

"I clerk therefore I am" - Des a clerk

The Well-Read Sherlockian

Take a look inside the tin dispatch box....

ccstomberg

Random musings

The WordPress.com Blog

...and sometimes he sings it instead

%d bloggers like this: