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I know I would just plotz

from Thursday, May1st of the year2008.

I know I would just plotz if Ian Bostridge ever had my name in his mouth. He just wrote this very nice article in the Times of London in which he expands on some of the ideas in Alex Ross’s amazing The Rest is Noise. Something I like about Alex’s book is that everybody has her own sense of what the “heart of the book” is. For some, like Bostridge, the “moral tale about music and power, occupy the central chapters of the book and inform much of the rest of it,” for others, like me, it’s all about Benjamin Britten!

How great are English people’s biographies when they include names like “Lucasta Miller” and “Julius Drake?”

bostridge-portrait.jpgWhen I was a teenager, I saw this portrait of Bostridge and thought to myself, maybe someday, I will dress like that. Look how good that scarf is! And I love the texture of that jacket.

Here he is, singing Ivor Gurney’s delicious song Sleep, from the English Songbook CD. Click here to see Gurney’s really beautifully engraved gravestone.

[audio:02 Sleep.mp3]
Ian Bostridge & Julius Drake
Ivor Gurney Sleep from The English Songbook

Sleep, from Five Elizabethan Songs
John Fletcher (1579-1625)
Come, Sleep, and with thy sweet deceiving
Lock me in delight awhile;
Let some pleasing dream beguile
All my fancies; that from thence
I may feel an influence
All my powers of care bereaving!

Though but a shadow, but a sliding,
Let me know some little joy!
We that suffer long annoy
Are contented with a thought
Through an idle fancy wrought:
O let my joys have some abiding
O let my joys have some abiding.

Lesbos called and they would like their intellectual property back. “The Homosexual and Lesbian Community of Greece could not be reached for comment” is also my favorite thing. What did they do, send them a mass mailing?


  • Thanks so much for “Sleep”. I haven’t heard that song in ages, because it’s so unbearably sad I can’t bear to listen to it. What a masterpiece. And a beautiful recording.

  • Again, again, again, you bring such amazing beauty and insight and hilarity to my eyes and ears! But don’t worry– no need for a restraining order, a la Charles W.– I live in N.C. You are a LIFELINE to things I didn’t even know I wanted to think about. Thank you! I leave with this aural meme [think The Clash, waaay before you were born]: “Lesbos calling. . .” Between that and the pathos of “Sleep,” today is indeed quite rich.

  • Bostridge does indeed sing “Sleep” very beautifully. One wishes that he would record the whole set of all five “Elizabethan Songs”. I remember thinking the same of same of Janet Baker, who recorded, back in the early 60s, the same two Gurney songs that Bostridge sings here as part of her English Song Anthology with Martin Isepp. These are also wonderful performances. And the Anthology also includes Howells’ incomparable “King David” and Finzi’s “Come Away Death”. On the other hand the Bostridge collection includes Denis Browne’s “To Gratiana Dancing and Singing”, which is surely one of the best things ever written by anybody.

    Gurney’s tombstone is lovely. But then the 20s and 30s were a great age of printing and engraving. When Ravel came to London on one of his visits in the 20s Howells met him and showed him a copy of his “Lambert’s Clavichord” (incredible pieces by the way). Ravel examined it meticulously from cover to cover. At the end his only comment was “Quelle gravure!”.