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I Fear No More. Selected Songs and Meditations of John Donne

by Anton Batagov

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Bob Spector This passionate, dramatic, gorgeously orchestrated song cycle -- in reality, a picture of the extraordinary Donne -- shares characteristics of great symphony and great movie music (and and in spots has the rhythmic insistence of rock). Singer Korenkov's accent is at first strange to native English speakers, but his versatile voice meshes wonderfully with the deep-voiced orchestration; he puts into his performance the emotion that the material calls for. This isn't just entertainment.. Favorite track: The Message.
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Go and catch a falling star, Get with child a mandrake root, Tell me where all past years are, Or who cleft the devil’s foot, Teach me to hear mermaids singing, Or to keep off envy’s stinging, And find What wind Serves to advance an honest mind. If thou be’st born to strange sights, Things invisible to see, Ride ten thousand days and nights, Till age snow white hairs on thee, Thou, when thou return’st, wilt tell me, All strange wonders that befell thee, And swear, No where Lives a woman true and fair. If thou find’st one, let me know, Such a pilgrimage were sweet; Yet do not, I would not go, Though at next door we might meet, Though she were true, when you met her, And last, till you write your letter, Yet she Will be False, ere I come, to two, or three.
The Heavens are not the less constant, because they move continually, because they move continually one and the same way. The Earth is not the more constant, because it lyes stil continually, because continually it changes, and melts in al parts thereof. Man, who is the noblest part of the Earth, melts so away, as if he were a statue, not of Earth, but of Snowe. We see his owne Envie melts him, he growes leane with that; he will say, anothers beautie melts him; but he feeles that a Fever doth not melt him like snow, but powr him out like lead, like iron, like brasse melted in a furnace: It doth not only melt him, but calcine him, reduce him to Atomes, and to ashes; not to water, but to lime. And how quickly? Sooner than thou canst receive an answer, sooner than thou canst conceive the question; Earth is the center of my Bodie, Heaven is the center of my Soule; these two are the naturall places of those two; but those goe not to these two in an equall pace: My body falls downe without pushing, my Soule does not go up without pulling: Ascension is my Soules pace and measure, but precipitation my bodies: And, even Angells, whose home is Heaven, and who are winged too, yet bid a Ladder to goe to Heaven, by steps. The Sunne who goes so many miles in a minut, the Starres of the Firmament, which go so very many more, goe not so fast, as my body to the earth. In the same instant that I feele the first attempt of the disease, I feele the victory; In the twinckling of an eye, I can scarse see, instantly the tast is insipid, and fatuous; instantly the appetite is dull and desirelesse: instantly the knees are sinking and strengthlesse; and in an instant, sleepe, which is the picture, the copie of death, is taken away, that the Originall, Death it selfe may succeed, and that so I might have death to the life. It was part of Adams punishment, In the sweat of thy browes thou shalt eate thy bread: it is multiplied to me, I have earned bread in the sweat of my browes, in the labor of my calling, and I have it; and I sweat againe, and againe, from the brow, to the sole of the foot, but I eat no bread, I tast no sustenance: Miserable distribution of Mankind!
The Message 07:20
Send home my long stray’d eyes to me, Which, O! too long have dwelt on thee; Yet since there they have learn’d such ill, Such forced fashions, And false passions, That they be Made by thee Fit for no good sight, keep them still. Send home my harmless heart again, Which no unworthy thought could stain; Which if it be taught by thine To make jestings Of protestings, And break both Word and oath, Keep it, for then ‘tis none of mine. Yet send me back my heart and eyes, That I may know, and see thy lies, And may laugh and joy, when thou Art in anguish And dost languish For some one That will none, Or prove as false as thou art now.
I have done one braver thing Than all the Worthies did; And yet a braver thence doth spring, Which is, to keep that hid. It were but madness now to impart The skill of specular stone, When he, which can have learn’d the art To cut it, can find none. So, if I now should utter this, Others—because no more Such stuff to work upon, there is— Would love but as before. But he who loveliness within Hath found, all outward loathes, For he who color loves, and skin, Loves but their oldest clothes. If, as I have, you also do Virtue in woman see, And dare love that, and say so too, And forget the He and She; And if this love, though placèd so, From profane men you hide, Which will no faith on this bestow, Or, if they do, deride; Then you have done a braver thing Than all the Worthies did; And a braver thence will spring, Which is, to keep that hid.
Now this bell tolling softly for another, says to me, Thou must die. Perchance he for whom this bell tolls may be so ill as that he knows not it tolls for him. And perchance I may think myself so much better than I am, as that they who are about me, and see my state, may have caused it to toll for me, and I know not that. When the church baptizes a child, that action concerns me; for that child is thereby connected to that head which is my head too, and ingraffed into that body, whereof I am a member. And when she buries a man, that action concerns me; all mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated; God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God’s hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again, for that library where every book shall lie open to one another; as therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come; so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness. No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
Wilt Thou forgive that sin where I begun, Which was my sin, though it were done before? Wilt Thou forgive that sin, through which I run, And do run still, though still I do deplore? When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done, For I have more. Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I have won Others to sin, and made my sin their door? Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I did shun A year or two, but wallowed in, a score? When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done, For I have more. I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun My last thread, I shall perish on the shore; But swear by Thyself, that at my death Thy Son Shall shine as he shines now, and heretofore; And having done that, Thou hast done; I fear no more.
Soul’s joy, now I am gone, And you alone, —Which cannot be, Since I must leave myself with thee, And carry thee with me— Yet when unto our eyes Absence denies Each other’s sight, And makes to us a constant night, When others change to light; O give no way to grief, But let belief Of mutual love This wonder to the vulgar prove, Our bodies, not we move. Let not thy wit beweep Words but sense deep; For when we miss By distance our hope’s joining bliss, Even then our souls shall kiss; Fools have no means to meet, But by their feet; Why should our clay Over our spirits so much sway, To tie us to that way? O give no way to grief, But let belief Of mutual love This wonder to the vulgar prove, Our bodies, not we move.
Epilogue 05:22


When Vladimir Jurowski suggested that I write something for the State Symphony, the idea of a vocal cycle to the poerty of John Donne emerged immediately, in the course of our conversation, as if John Donne himself came to us and said:

- Gentlemen. I have wanted to talk about something for a long time. I think it’s time to do it now.

We gladly agreed.

John Donne (1572 – 1631), English poet, priest, mystic, philosopher, alchemist. A man who had no fear of death because he knew that it was not the end but a long-awaited moment of renewal and cure, a moment when you are being “translated into a better language” like a chapter from a book – a language much more beautiful and perfect – to become part of a global library “where every book shall lie open to one another”. A man who used the word “meditations” for his sermons. A man who uncompromisingly rejected everything that did not lead to the ultimate truth. A man who knew what true love was. Love that cannot be stopped by death. And he knew the difference between that love and an illusion people usually mistake for love. The one who has that knowledge sees no border between He and She, between You and I, between heaven and earth. One who has that knowledge is aware that parting does not imply loss. One who has experienced such love gives no more way to grief. One who has experienced such love fears no more.

Anton Batagov, edited by Cazimir Liske


released June 1, 2015

The State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia

Vladimir Jurowski: conductor
Alexander Korenkov: vocals
Asya Sorshneva: violin
Anton Batagov: piano
Sergei Kalachev “Grebstel”: bass guitar
Vladimir Zharko: drums

Composed by: Anton Batagov

Recorded by: Pavel Lavrenenkov, Victor Osadchev
Recorded live at: Tchaikovsky Concert Hall, Moscow, November 17, 2014
Edited, mixed by: Alexander Mikhlin
Mastered by: Alexander Mikhlin
Booklet cover photo by: Hieromonk Damian
Concert photography by: Liana Darenskaya, Alexander Ivanov, TV Kultura


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FANCYMUSIC is a record label focused on contemporary new music recordings. FANCYMUSIC is a broad platform for a wide variety of contemporary new music composed by different russian musicians. FANCYMUSIC is also a platform on which newer names may be encountered. ... more

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