Search - Claude Debussy, William Linley, Robert Schumann :: Shakespeare in Music

Shakespeare in Music
Claude Debussy, William Linley, Robert Schumann
Shakespeare in Music
Genres: Folk, Pop, Classical
  •  Track Listings (30) - Disc #1


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CD Reviews

Focus on Ophelia and Desdemona
mllekate | USA | 05/09/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Shakespeare in Music covers music inspired by three Shakespearean tragedies, Hamlet, Othello, and King Lear, and focuses on Ophelia's mad scene and Desdemona's Willow Song. Only a few minutes are devoted to King Lear, with Claude Debussy's introductory Fanfare and his tone picture Le Sommeil de Lear.

This album concentrates on the central scenes where Ophelia and Desdemona sing and shows how eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth century composers responded to these extreme emotional states of the two heroines.

In Othello, Desdemona 's Willow Song develops out of her despair, fear, and presentiment of death. The old song of scorned love expresses the anguish of Desdemona, hurt and threatened by her husband Othello's jealousy and unjust accusations. Treatments here of the Willow Song include works by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Carl Loewe, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Erich Korngold, and others.

In Hamlet, Ophelia's mad scene is punctuated by her alternation of confused speech and abrupt sing-song, expressing her depression and departure from reality. Included here are works by William Linley, Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms, Peter Tchaikovsky, Ernest Chausson, and others. The Schumann selection, however, does not involve Ophelia's mad scene, but instead the scene where Queen Gertrude tells Hamlet that Ophelia has drowned herself ("There is a willow grows aslant a brook...").

This album contains thirty musical selections, and a booklet containing the major texts in English, German, and French upon which the songs are based. They are not translated, per se, but the texts in different languages more or less correspond with each other, and the meanings can easily be determined. Overall, the album is a pleasant and instructive sampling of music inspired by these Shakespearean passages over the last three centuries. Mezzosoprano Rosemarie Buhler has a lovely voice, and she and the accompanists do a fine job. Students of Shakespeare, as well as anyone who enjoys the plays Hamlet and Othello, would appreciate this music."