The Slipped Disc daily comfort zone (117): Where I wish to be

The Slipped Disc daily comfort zone (117): Where I wish to be


norman lebrecht

July 10, 2020

By the sea.

With Dame Janet Baker in my ears.



  • Greg Bottini says:

    Lovely. Simply lovely.

  • Bostin'Symph says:

    I’ve been suffering chronic fatigue since going down with Covid about 17 weeks ago. And while I count myself lucky in that it could have been a lot worse, I’m starting to get very down about not being able to do much.
    I’ve just listened to this wonderful recording and can say genuinely that my spirits are lifted. Thank you for sharing it, Norman.

  • David Taylor says:

    The one time I ever met/worked with Janet (with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra) involved this wonderful piece, one of Elgar’s very best. I never forgot it.
    Why isn’t this great music sung more often? She is one of the greatest artists of our time. I wish I had contact information to tell her so.

  • Bill Blake says:

    Definitive recording, we could use more of Dame Janet these days.

  • E. says:

    This is sublime…and so English (“this elfin land”). Thank you for posting it.
    Searching “Sea birds sleeping,”
    I found a reminder that migrating sea-birds sleep in flight, and that many will sleep while floating…a regular sight in Lucerne.
    Here is the text that Janet Baker sings.

    The poem here is as sung in Sea Pictures.[2]

    Italicised text indicates lines repeated in the song but not in the original poem.

    Sea Slumber Song

    Sea-birds are asleep,
    The world forgets to weep,
    Sea murmurs her soft slumber-song
    On the shadowy sand
    Of this elfin land;
    “I, the Mother mild,
    Hush thee, O my child,
    Forget the voices wild!
    Isles in elfin light
    Dream, the rocks and caves,
    Lulled by whispering waves,
    Veil their marbles bright,
    Foam glimmers faintly white
    Upon the shelly sand
    Of this elfin land;
    Sea-sound, like violins,
    To slumber woos and wins,
    I murmur my soft slumber-song,
    Leave woes, and wails, and sins,
    Ocean’s shadowy might
    Breathes good-night,

    “The world forgets to weep.”

  • Bruce says:

    Wonderful. (She was pretty reliable for that, no matter what she was singing.)

    When I saw “By the sea,” for a moment I thought he meant Dame Janet would be singing this: . I was weirdly optimistic for a moment.

  • Edgar Self says:

    A thousand thanks, E., for giving the words, as I got few from Dame Janet, admirable as she is. That curiously strangulated first high note, repeated, is so odd I don’t quite know what she means by it, though it sounds peculiarly like a minor voca l difficulty.

    I Everyone but me evidently knows the poet’s name; I would like to know also, just for the record. Seabirds asleep like many brave men pn the bosom of th deeps is a fine ida confirmed by your Lucerne experience,– as fine a title as Mendelssohn’s haunting duet “Farewell Song of the Birds of Passage” — “Abshiedslied ddes Zugvoegel” or something like that.

    This would make a good programme with Delius-Walt Whitman’s “Sea Drift” and some of Stanford’s Sea Songs and Shanties so well sung by baritone Gerald Finley, if not too much of a good thing, of which we cannot have enough.

  • Gene Blinick says:

    Lovely indeed, but my favorite of this set is “Where Corals Lie” which is so hauntingly beautiful. I have kept it as one of my favorites for many years.