O Happy Fair – The Loadstars for recorder trio (soprano, alto and tenor)

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Description

Instrumental trio based on The Loadstars by William Shield
This lovely trio is a curiously “out of context” setting by William Shield of words from Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
In Shield’s setting the three voices simply admire a beautiful woman, in enticing harmonies – a fine piece of music deservedly part of the repertoire of vocal trios everywhere;
but in the play the words form part of a speech of jealousy between childhood friends and the potential end of that friendship:

The scene in Shakespeare’s original:
The fairy world – in the form of Puck – has interfered most clumsily with the passions of the human world, with the result that human lovers are confused in their loves:
Demetrius, Helena’s lover, now loves her friend Hermia, who doesn’t love him, and he ignores Helena, who loves him but is already becoming somewhat insecure about the powers of her feminine attraction.
Helena is therefore jealous of Hermia’s beauty:

HERMIA
God speed fair Helena! whither away?

HELENA
Call you me fair? that fair again unsay.
Demetrius loves your fair: O happy fair!
Your eyes are lode-stars; and your tongue’s sweet air
More tuneable than lark to shepherd’s ear,
When wheat is green, when hawthorn buds appear.
Sickness is catching: O, were favour so,
Yours would I catch, fair Hermia, ere I go;
My ear should catch your voice, my eye your eye,
My tongue should catch your tongue’s sweet melody.
Were the world mine, Demetrius being bated,
The rest I’d give to be to you translated.
O, teach me how you look, and with what art
You sway the motion of Demetrius’ heart.

HERMIA
I frown upon him, yet he loves me still.

HELENA
O that your frowns would teach my smiles such skill!

HERMIA
I give him curses, yet he gives me love.

HELENA
O that my prayers could such affection move!

HERMIA
The more I hate, the more he follows me.

HELENA
The more I love, the more he hateth me.

HERMIA
His folly, Helena, is no fault of mine.

HELENA
None, but your beauty: would that fault were mine!