Roger Quilter (1877-1953)
Love’s Philosophy; Now sleeps the crimson petal
Quilter’s style matured early, and two of the three
songs from his Op.3, composed and published in 1904-5, are as effective and popular as any
of his later ones. ‘Love’s Philosophy’ and ‘Now sleeps the crimson
petal’ set well-known poems by Shelley and Tennyson respectively, the former with
well-judged good humour and erotic enthusiasm, the latter with the heart-easing
sensibility verging on sentimentality that was to become such a durable characteristic.
Both songs say something fresh from the very first bar of the piano part:
‘Love’s Philosophy’ with the hint of modality in the introductory
progression of predominately minor triads, ‘Now sleeps the crimson petal’ with
the sense of sprung rhythm established in the five quaver upbeats of the right-hand
cantilena and lengthened in the first vocal phrase. In the vocal parts, Quilter has
already found secure ways of achieving plasticity and of word-setting: both are in ¾
time, predominately or completely, as are nearly half the songs in this recital.
© Stephen Banfield