Elegy Fear no more the heat o’ th’ sun

“Elegy” is a continuous song-cycle built around Shakespeare’s poem “Fear no more the heat o’ th’ sun” from “Cymbeline”, which appears as a Prologue, Interlude and Epilogue.  In contrast to the stately, yet elegiac mood of this poem I have set three contrasting poems that each reflect aspects of loss – the pastoral “To Meadows” by Herrick, the pathetic and sad mad song of Ophelia “How should I your true love know” (from “Hamlet”), and the richly expressive anonymous “Weep you no more, sad fountains”.  The work was originally conceived for six solo voices as an attempt to recreate in 20th century terms some of the character and style of the great madrigal composers of the first Elizabethan age.  It is also a piece of vocal chamber music, and the intimate and intricate nature of the vocal writing requires from the singers a similar degree of flexibility and interaction between the parts.  It was commissioned by the Purcell Consort of Voices, who gave the first performance in October 1967 under the direction of Grayston Burgess.

© Christopher Brown 2011