Time's Best Jewel: Five Choral Sonnets after Shakespeare (2005-8)
SATB Choir (including S, A & B solos) & Piano, 20'
- Sonnet 130
- Sonnet 55
- Sonnet 104
- Sonnet 113
- Sonnet 65
Shakespeare's Sonnets contain some of the most searching and complex ruminations on the nature of love and desire in the English language. Passing seamlessly between moments of euphoria and desolation, passionate longing and cruel cynicism, heady desperation and world-weariness, each rigorous poetic construct of fourteen lines offers up a cornucopia of feelings and philosophies. And not one of the 154 poems that make up the collection is a straightforward declaration of love! The principal difficulty for the composer when setting the Sonnets is to find a musical language that supports the words and their elusive and ever-shifting moods. Each line of poetry is replete with myriad meanings, with Shakespeare's teasing fondness for word-play at its most dense and capricious. By shackling each poem to suit one musical interpretation, the compositions could be viewed as working against the multiple meanings locked within these extraordinary utterances. Yet, each setting should be viewed as one perspective of a million, in the same way that one actor's interpretation of Hamlet closes no doors to the multitudes of other actors who may turn their talents to the same role.
Time's Best Jewel was commissioned by Deborah Moody to celebrate the 21st Anniversary of the Year Out Drama Company. The work was premiered on 29th June 2008 at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon by members of the 2007/8 company with an additional chorus of returning members. Solos were sung by John Sandeman (baritone), Sarah Gabriel (soprano) and Katie Brennan (alto), conducted from the piano by Joseph Atkins.