Shakespeare sonnets to be set to music for the first time

They are widely considered to be the most precious words ever written about love. Now for the first time Shakespeare's celebrated sonnets have been set to music and performed on a series of extraordinary instruments from Shakespeare's time.

Shakespeare period instruments

'Shakespeare: The Sonnets' is a whole album of The Bard's famous love poems set to original music written by Robert Hollingworth, director of vocal ensemble I Fagiolini. The album was recorded in London over a period of 6 months, and is being released to celebrate the cultural Olympiad 2012.

In tribute to Shakespeare's time, all the instruments used on the album are authentic instruments from early 17th century. These include the Lirone, a 13 string cello-like instrument with a flat bridge that allows the player to play chords and the Theorbo, a very big instrument with string lengths of over 170cm. Other instruments used on the album include a viol, cornett, sackbut, curtal, shawm, lute, harpsichord, virginals, dulcimer and early trumpet.

The album features eleven Shakespeare sonnets in total, including 'Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore' (Sonnet 60), 'No longer mourn for me' (Sonnet 71) and 'Shall I compare thee to summers day?' (Sonnet 18).

'Shakespeare: The Sonnets' will be released officially on Shakespeare's birthday, April 23rd.