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Welcome to Hyperion Records, an independent British classical label devoted to presenting high-quality recordings of music of all styles and from all periods from the twelfth century to the twenty-first.
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Who but a slave appears in a manuscript collection in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, that seems to have been copied around 1683/85 and includes four solo songs by Purcell; some of the songs are copied from contemporary published song-books, but others appear to derive from manuscript sources. Among a handful of songs copied from Choice Ayres IV (published in 1683) comes Who but a slave, suggesting that Purcell’s song may have been written around early 1683. The melody of the three strophic verses contains the attractively angular vocal lines that often characterize Purcell’s earlier works.