Purcell made three settings of Colonel Henry Heveningham’s ‘If music be the food of love’. The first version was published in June 1692 in The Gentleman’s Journal
, and reproduced the next year, somewhat altered, in Heptinstall’s Comes Amoris. The third version, published in 1693 was completely different. This second setting, a tone lower than the first, contains less of the breathless excitement, substituting instead a more flowing version of Purcell’s ravishing melody. Nonetheless, the repeated, rising request ‘sing on’ pre-echoes the (slightly risqué) list of qualities – ‘Your eyes, your mien [bearing], your tongue’ – that declare ‘That you are music ev’rywhere’. The longest melisma is reserved for the word ‘music’.
from notes by Robert King © 2003