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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA66456
Recording details: September 1990
St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Ben Turner
Engineered by Antony Howell
Release date: May 1991
Total duration: 24 minutes 9 seconds

Ye tuneful Muses, Z344
composer
1686; Welcome Song for James II
author of text

Symphony  [3'26]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Ye tuneful Muses was written in 1686, most probably to celebrate the return of the Court from Windsor to Whitehall on 1 October. As the birthday of King James II fell on 14 October some scholars have suggested it is possible that the celebrations were combined, for the diarist Luttrell recorded that the birthday was ‘observed with great solemnity … the day concluded with ringing of bells, bonefires and a ball at Court’, but there is little in the text to suggest this was so. That anonymous author did however provide Purcell with a good libretto, full of variety and vivid material for compositional inspiration, especially in its references to music and musical instruments and, as ever, Purcell did not fail.

The fine opening Symphony is in the conventional two-section French style (which had itself originated in Italy), with the opening dotted section followed by a faster imitative triple-time movement. Two basses follow this with a rich duet, full of word-painting, linked to the first chorus by a short string ritornello. The section ‘Be lively then and gay’ is ingeniously based on the popular song ‘Hey boys, up go we’, and Purcell used its tune (to be found in The Dancing Master, 16th edition, 1686) first as the bass to the tenor solo, then as a counterpoint in the violins to the chorus, and then again as the bass to the dancing string ritornello which concludes the section. It is not known who was the bass singer for ‘In his just praise’ but he must have had a remarkable range of over two octaves which Purcell exploited to the full. The composer’s good humour continues, for in the next section the upper strings furiously play on all four of their open strings in response to the chorus’s exhortation ‘Tune all your strings’. The musical allegories continue in ‘From the rattling of drums and the trumpet’s loud sounds’ before we enter into a more gentle section ‘To music’s softer but yet kind and pleasing melody’ which is accompanied by two recorders. This leads into the jewel of the Ode ‘With him he brings’, sung at the first performance by the famous countertenor (and fine composer) William Turner. Over a wonderful four-bar ground bass the Queen’s beauty is praised, with especially delightful writing for ‘There beauty its whole artillery tries’, before the ground bass modulates up a fifth, and Purcell provides (as he does in so many of the Odes) a delicious string ritornello. The soprano duet ‘Happy in a mutual love’ which follows is delightful too, and the work ends with a lilting solo and elegantly harmonized chorus ‘Whilst in music and verse’.

from notes by Robert King © 2010

Other albums featuring this work
'Purcell: The Complete Odes & Welcome Songs' (CDS44031/8)
Purcell: The Complete Odes & Welcome Songs
MP3 £35.00FLAC £35.00ALAC £35.00Buy by post £38.50 CDS44031/8  8CDs Boxed set (at a special price)  
'Purcell: Mr Henry Purcell's Most Admirable Composures' (CDH55303)
Purcell: Mr Henry Purcell's Most Admirable Composures
MP3 £4.99FLAC £4.99ALAC £4.99Buy by post £5.50 CDH55303  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  
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