Saturday, May 23, 2009

If music... the food of love of Henry Purcell

with Alfred Deller, countertenor

If music be the food of love,
sing on till I am fill'd with joy;
for then my list'ning soul you move
with pleasures that can never cloy,
your eyes, your mien, your tongue declare
that you are music ev'rywhere.

Pleasures invade both eye and ear,
so fierce the transports are, they wound,
and all my senses feasted are,
tho' yet the treat is only sound.
Sure I must perish by our charms,
unless you save me in your arms.

The first line of Heveningham's poem quotes the opening seven words of Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare, giving rise to the belief that Purcell's song is a setting of a Shakespearean text, when it is not. The play begins:

Duke Orsino:
If music be the food of love, play on,
Give me excess of it; that surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.

Twelfth Night
Act 1, scene 1, 1–3

Duke Orsino of Illyria, presiding over the merry, mixed-up world of Twelfth Night, opens the play with these festive sentiments, soured though they be by the affected airs of the melancholic lover...

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