Third week of the series in collaboration with the Master's Degree of Lied-ESMUC. Blanca Vázquez Canales presents Tears, by Ivor Gurney; she also perform the song, accompanied by Ignasio Aparisi. Thank you very much (twice!) Blanca, and thank you Ignacio, too.

Venus que irromp de les aigües - Manuel Boix
Venus que irromp de les aigües - M. Boix

Isabelinas is the word that adjectives these songs. Written between 1913 and 1914. Its composer Ivor Gurney, musician and poet, decided to musicalize the poems of Shakespeare, Flechter and Nashe whose texts belonged to the English gold era, in which, the flourishing of the arts includes poetry, whose sole purpose It was the delight. Influenced by the Italian style, he makes constant references to classical world literature, as in the case of the first song Orpheus.

5 Elizabethan songs were composed at the time when Ivor Gurney studied at the Royal College of Music in London, under the tutelage of composer Charles Villiers Stanford. Later, he continued his studies with Ralph Vaughan Williams.

The musician had suffered from constant mood swings and mental problems since his youth, which over the time were accentuated. These songs reflect part of those changes. We can find from the brightest happiness (Orpheus, Under the Tree of Greenwood, Spring) to the most somber introspection (Tears, Sleep).

Located in a time of compositional changes, we could identify Ivor Gurney´s music in the post-Romanticism. When we listen to his music, it reminds us for that of the one written by his teacher, R. Vaughan Williams.

He felt passionate about chamber music and we can see it in the way he completed his music with the words he needed. It has a production of about 300 songs. Besides his mental illness we can see man of great talent.

After this small social and compositional framework of life and the song cycle composed by Ivor Gurney, we immerse ourselves in the Elizabethan song Tears. Although the text belongs to John Fletcher, it is really an anonymous Renaissance text. It was already put into music by John Dowland in his Third Books of Songs or Ayres (1603). It was the fashion of the time that revived texts from the Elizabethan era. The song consists of a dedication to Emmy Hunt. She was the sister of Ivor, who along with her other sister, Margaret Hunt and Alfred H. Cheesman, raised Gurney's interest in music and literature.

Tears is a ballad performed frequently in the English courts. That gives us the answer to why, after each stanza, we can hear: "Softly, now gently sleep asleep". The main theme of this text revolves around water fountains In the Renaissance era, the fountains had two meanings. One of them was its practical meaning and the other was the decorative use in the homes of "well-to-do families" or wealthy families. In this case, he uses the second meaning. He connects the drops of water from the fountains with tears: "Do not cry more sad fountains." The song is a metaphor about the sadness experienced by the death of a woman: "When she lies asleep". Quite possibly Queen Elizabeth I of England who was poisoned.

The song is divided into two parts. Both are quite similar in their vocal line. The text begins with the descending scale of C minor, the tone of the piece, which plays with the meaning of the text: "Weep you no more sad fountains". Accompanied by the pedal note of the tonal tone. Continued by the game of notes that remember us the flow of water from the fountains: "Look how the snowy mountains" that encourages you to look up to see the mountains. This is the phrase that reaches the highest note of the song, a E4. "Heaven’s sun doth quickly waste", means a rise in eighth notes that leads to a modulation in the key of C Major. Then comes the theme of the song, typical of ballads, in the minor key, anticipated by a religious brushwork, usual in the Elizabethan times: “But my Sun’s heavenly eyes, view not your weeping, that now lies sleeping. Softly, now softly lies sleeping”. The melody rests upon the main key.

In the second part of the song the accompaniment played by the piano, retakes the initial theme, in a homophony context and without the pedal note, something that relaxes the sonority to express what the words mean: "Sleep is a reconciliation, a rest that peace begets”." “Doth not the sunrise smiling, when fair at even he sets”, the phrase ends in C # Major. Tears concludes in this same key.

From a personal point of view I consider that this song is highly emotional and that it recites, speaks or even murmurs about a deep sense of grief. Perhaps it can not be made clear with words and music is the one that guides us towards the restlessness that it incites.

It is curious how the writer of this poem did not dare to mention the name of the woman who died softly. It is possible that the greatest emotions in the world are inconceivable for words. Without doubt there is a refinement in the language and magnificent expression. After reading these paragraphs, you will no longer observe the text, you will not see snowy mountains and streams in the middle of an English meadow, because you will know the shock of the death of that woman who remained eternally asleep and we do not know her name ... do we?


Weep you no more, sad fountains;
What need you flow so fast?
Look how the snowy mountains
Heaven’s sun doth gently waste.
But my sun’s heavenly eyes
View not your weeping,
That now lie sleeping
Softly, now softly lies

Sleep is a reconciling,
A rest that peace begets.
Doth not the sun rise smiling
When fair at even he sets?
Rest you then, rest, sad eyes,
Melt not in weeping
While she lies sleeping
Softly, now softly lies

Sobre Blanca Vázquez Canales

Blanca Vázquez Canales (Valencia, 1993) en 2017 finaliza el Conservatorio Superior de Música "Joaquín Rodrigo" de Valencia en la especialidad de Canto. En 2018 realiza el Máster Artístico de​ Estudios Avanzados en Lied, Canción Española y Cançó Catalana "Victoria de los Ángeles" en Barcelona. En el mismo año es finalista en el Concurso de Canto de Juventudes Musicales de España. Entre sus próximo compromisos se encuantra el estreno de "3 Sonetos de Lope" de César Cano y la grabación de "Ciclo de Canciones sobre textos de Alfonsina Storni" de Claudia Montero.

Comments powered by CComment

Liederabend website uses technical cookies, essential for the operation of the site, and analytics cookies that you can disable.