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Saturday, March 20, 2004
  Madrigal: O Care, thou wilt despatch me
Thomas Weelkes (ca. 1575-1623)

Thomas may remind you of David. That is to say that, like the story of David in the court of Kind Saul, Thomas' madrigal deals with the ability music has to distract one from depression. With no evidence of what his music was like, I have always assumed that David's music was effective because, like Saul's mood, it was moody. I would guess, putting myself in Saul's position, that if David attempted to cheer Saul with an uplifting dance number his performance would have been cut short. Though Weelkes' madrigal has plenty of long droopy chords, the reoccurring "Fa, la, las" suggest that, in addition to a lover's catharsis, Weelkes may have been looking for a few dance steps.

This adventuresome attitude may be the result of Mr. Weelkes' confidence in his audience. This piece, an almost bipolar avowal, relies on the listener's experience with previous madrigals. It contrasts with the relentlessness of many of these pieces.

What I like about this composition is the use of scales. It is impressive how much is accomplished in stepwise motion. For instance, with scales it is easy to move voices in and out of the foreground. Because each voice is easy to follow throughout, Mr. Weelkes accomplishes a wonderful depth of field in this piece. 

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In January 2004 I starting writing an opinion for each selection in the Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music. Now, more than a year later, I am almost finished. Soon, I will have an archive full of opinions on the music we so carelessly call "classical." And no one can stop me.

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Director of the Contemporary Performer's Workshop... Music Teacher for St. Aloysius Gonzaga School... Principal 'Cellist of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra... Composer

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