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Now sleeps the crimson petal

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

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