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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: 17 minutes 19 seconds

Celestial music did the gods inspire, Z322
composer
5 August 1689; Ode for a performance at Mr Maidwell's School
author of text

Symphony  [3'10]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
In 1689 Purcell was commissioned to write works by two London schools. The more famous of these commissions resulted in Dido and Aeneas, first performed at Josias Priest’s School for Young Ladies in Chelsea, but at around the same time (perhaps keeping up with his competitors) the schoolteacher Mr Maidwell commissioned the music to the Ode Celestial music did the gods inspire, which was performed at his school on 5 August. The librettist is unknown, simply credited in the score with ‘the words by one of his scholars’, but certainly appears to have had a firm grounding in Greek and Roman mythology—and produced verse that was better than some written by more distinguished names of the time.

Purcell took the Symphony for the Ode directly from his 1685 coronation anthem My heart is inditing: such re-use of material was comparatively rare with Purcell and suggests that there may have been some haste in the composition. The solo bass at ‘Celestial music’ is accompanied by imitative strings who lead into a chorus which blossoms wonderfully at ‘Whom sacred music calls her Deity’. ‘Her charming strains’ is evocatively scored over a four-bar ground bass for the other-worldly combination of countertenor and two recorders and the instruments are provided with an elegant playout. ‘Thus Virgil’s Genius’ is also set on a ground and is given to a soprano soloist, followed by the duet ‘Whilst music did improve Amphion’s song’ and a string ritornello, both based on the rhythmic motif of a Scotch snap. ‘When Orpheus sang’ is a minature masterpiece in which, once again, the theme of music inspires Purcell to produce a movement of startling originality: the countertenor weaves a florid line over a hypnotic chordal accompaniment illustrating Orpheus and his lyre subduing nature and even cruel Pluto. Closing the work is a trio (with suitably rich harmony for the word ‘ravish’d’) which is then taken up by the chorus and enlarged with virtuoso breaks for the first violin.

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)  
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