For those unfamiliar with the geography of greater London, Richmond Hill sits some ten miles to the southwest of the city. In the seventeenth century it would have taken half a day on horseback to get there, but the view from the top of the hill, looking down into the lush green valley of the river Thames, around which were sited a variety of fine stately homes belonging to the good and the great, was one of the finest vistas of the capital and its environs. D’Urfey poetically describes the scene, and Purcell’s setting is affectionately melodic (including a circular melisma to illustrate both ‘round’ and ‘crown’d’). ‘Lovely Cynthia’ passes by and, as the melody reaches one note higher than previously, catches the poet’s eye ‘With brighter glories’. The view pales into insignificance, for ‘all [ravishingly set by Purcell] are poor’ when compared to Cynthia.
from notes by Robert King © 2003
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