Mark Padmore - Autumnal

Sometime I Sing

The sun is blazing down on to the crenelations at Tweed Towers, but I'll stick my neck out and say we moved into Autumn proper this week. Cloud has descended and the sun will soon go on its hols until next June; the Madras and the seersucker will be stowed accordingly.

There's no need to be grumpy about it though. Let's herald in the season of mellow wistfulness with a song from Sometime I Sing, a super album by composer Alec Roth on the Signum Classics label.

Autumnal is a song for tenor and guitar — the tenor being Mark Padmore (top) and the guitarist Morgan Szymanski. For this song, Alec has set the words of John Donne's poem The Autumnal to his music.

At this stage in a music post I will usually embed a clip so you can listen to the song I am wittering on about. But there is no clip to be found of Autumal. I would try and use the power of words to describe the song, but they say to clarify is to offend. Let me merely summarise thus: Mark Padmore's high tenor voice plus John Donne's poetic imagery to an accompaniment of charming melody and rhythm. A winner in short.

You can use this Autumnal [Amazon] link to hear a snatch. Then clearly you'll buy it and we need not have worried about finding a full clip in the first place. (We weren't worried.)

Mark and Morgan, if you read this, can you please record a video of this song for me to post? (I'd really like some 'Tweed Pig Sessions'.) No rush, but before the end of Autumn would be good. Otherwise, we might be looking at a Winterreise video. Thanks in advance.

The Autumnal

No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace
  As I have seen in one autumnal face.
Young beauties force our love, and that's a rape,
  This doth but counsel, yet you cannot scape.
If 'twere a shame to love, here 'twere no shame;
  Affection here takes reverence's name.
Were her first years the golden age? That's true,
  But now she's gold oft tried and ever new.
That was her torrid and inflaming time,
  This is her tolerable tropic clime.
Fair eyes, who asks more heat than comes from hence,
  He in a fever wishes pestilence.
Call not these wrinkles, graves; if graves they were,
  They were Love's graves, for else he is no where.
Yet lies not Love dead here, but here doth sit
  Vow'd to this trench, like an anachorit;
And here till hers, which must be his death, come,
  He doth not dig a grave, but build a tomb.
Here dwells he; though he sojourn ev'rywhere
  In progress, yet his standing house is here:
Here where still evening is, not noon nor night,
  Where no voluptuousness, yet all delight.
In all her words, unto all hearers fit,
  You may at revels, you at council, sit.
This is Love's timber, youth his underwood;
  There he, as wine in June, enrages blood,
Which then comes seasonablest when our taste
  And appetite to other things is past.
Xerxes' strange Lydian love, the platan tree,
  Was lov'd for age, none being so large as she,
Or else because, being young, nature did bless
  Her youth with age's glory, barrenness.
If we love things long sought, age is a thing
  Which we are fifty years in compassing;
If transitory things, which soon decay,
  Age must be loveliest at the latest day.
But name not winter faces, whose skin's slack,
  Lank as an unthrift's purse, but a soul's sack;
Whose eyes seek light within, for all here's shade;
  Whose mouths are holes, rather worn out than made;
Whose every tooth to a several place is gone,
  To vex their souls at resurrection:
Name not these living death's-heads unto me,
  For these, not ancient, but antique be.
I hate extremes, yet I had rather stay
  With tombs than cradles, to wear out a day.
Since such love's natural motion is, may still
  My love descend, and journey down the hill,
Not panting after growing beauties. So,
  I shall ebb on with them who homeward go.

John Donne


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