Love divine and mundane 53:15

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William Boyce: See Famed Apollo and the Nine (Ode for St Cecilia's Day). This short excerpt (the complete piece is highly recommended) opens with the phrase 'Sprung from gods, immortal love' - or should it be 'gods' immortal love'? Or 'God's immortal love?' Apollo was the son of Zeus, whose marriage to Hera was traditionally celebrated in February. Coincidence, or...? Gluck: Orfeo ed Euridice (1859 Berlioz revision). The story of these ill-fated lovers has long been an inspiration to composers. Gluck's opera, balanced and expressive, marked the transition of the form from the extravagances of the Baroque to the early classical period. Mendelssohn: A Midsummer Night's Dream. Mendelssohn's overture and incidental music for Shakespeare's play is deservedly popular. The play sees the immortal King and Queen of Faerie, Oberon and Titania, playing spiteful pranks on each other, eventually learning lessons in relationship management from the very mortals whose lives they casually toy with. Liszt: Transcription of 'Liebestod' from Tristan und Isolde. Liszt produced many piano arrangements of music by Wagner. This fine example is taken from Wagner's opera dealing with the complex and tragic relationship of these two legendary lovers. Interestingly, the story of Piramus and Thisbe, played comedically within the Shakespeare's 'MND' (see above), may have contributed to this tale. Handel: Acis and Galatea. This Handel opera is the usual nymph-meets-shepherd story, extracted from Greek myth. 'Love sounds th'alarm' is also a popular as a programmed choral piece. Gilbert and Sullivan: Iolanthe Iolanthe, mistress of fairy revels, has fallen in love with and married a mortal, with splendidly comic results in this Savoy Opera classic. Composer Sullivan included several musical references to Mendelssohn's piece (see above). Lully: Suite du Cinquieme Ton - Overture de Psyche As the lover of Cupid, Psyche has to be included here, even if Lully's thunderous organ piece makes for a rather unsubtle nymph. Holst: Venus, from The Planets Suite Here described as 'the bringer of peace', Venus is more widely thought of as the goddess of love. Tchaikovsky: Waltz from 'The Sleeping Beauty'. Often performed in concert, this uplifting waltz from Tchaikovksy's most successful ballet is a charming metaphor for that light-footed feeling induced by romance. Sigh... Debussy: Clair de Lune This favourite from Debussy's Suite Bergamasque is wonderfully evocative. Gentle and delicate, it's also representative of the composer's love of the sound of the piano. Beethoven: Fur Elise Or, strictly speaking, 'Bagatelle in A Minor'. The dedication 'For Elise' may have been a copyist's error, as the manuscript was found among the papers of Therese von Brunswick, with whom Beethoven was in love. Certainly there could be no more romantic musical gift than this much-loved piano piece. Elgar: Variation I from the 'Enigma' Variations The first of Elgar's famous variations inspired by his family and friends bears the initials of his wife, Caroline Alice Elgar; clearly a wise and sensible husband! This is a subtle, yearning miniature, full of gentle tensions and resolutions. Schubert: 'Leise flehen meine Lieder' from Schwanengesang 'Softly my songs cry to you through the night', begins this plaintive but essentially optimistic song of hoped-for love. This is a delightful instrumental version for solo piano. Schumann: Dichterliebe 'A Poet's Love' is a song cycle based on the poems of Heinrich Heine on the subject of unrequited affection. Profound and expertly balanced between voice and instrument, this is a work for the head as well as the heart. Kurt Weill: Is It Him or Is It Me? Love, of course, is a fragile thing; the pain and confusion of parting is expertly conveyed in this song by Weill, whose unique talent blurred the distinction between opera and the stage musical. Ravel: Bolero Given its associations with, er, the physical aspects of affection (such as its use in the romantic comedy '10', as an accompaniment to ice dancing and so on) it's hard to avoid including this piece, which appropriately enough consists of just two melodic elements. Ravel, however, dismissed it as 'a composition for orchestra without music'. Playlist created by

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