This project is the result of a long held desire to put the poems of John Donne and various other metaphysical poets to music. In the end there were so many to choose from that I whittled it down to John Donne, George Herbert and Henry Vaughan. I started on this project some years back with one of John Donne’s poems, Wilt Thou Forgiveand George Herbert’s Love Bade Me Welcome. Having met up with Penelope Cave, I decided the time was right to try and bring this whole project to tuition.
The metaphysical poets are in one sense strangely contemporary. Their poetry is very passionate and full-blooded. And just as they wrote in deeply devotional terms about their love, so they wrote in the imagery of love about their devotions. John Donne’s Batter My Heartis particularly breathtaking. The depth of their spirituality and devotion is something I find constantly challenging and I hope that this recording will open people up to look again – or for the first time – at their poetry.
My thanks to Penelope for arranging each composition, and although I did not attempt to be authentic in one sense, nevertheless the instrumentation and style of the accompaniments obviously reflect the period and Penelope’s arrangements bring something special to each poem.
Thanks also to David Wavre of Eagle for his support in making this happen; to Tom Blades for keeping a watchful eye on us all and adding to the general “joie de vivre”; to Michael Moor for engineering and to Bil Hunt for playing viola de gamba.
In most cases I have used the poems as written – and if I have changed the shape at all, I have never used any words that are not there in the original poem. However in some cases I have repeated lines or words – either to create a chorus or a second musical section. We have also included two anonymous pieces of that period Why Aske You from Will Forster’s Virginal Book completed by 1625 and the aptly titled All Done from Anne Cromwell’s Virginal Book of 1638 - Garth Hewitt