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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA66494
Recording details: March 1991
St Paul's Church, New Southgate, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Ben Turner
Engineered by Antony Howell
Release date: April 1992
Total duration: 12 minutes 22 seconds

'The richness of Purcell's musical invention sweep all before it, and these records demand to be heard above all for "the greatest Genius we ever had"' (The Sunday Times)

'A revelation and a delight. Thoroughly recommended' (Classic CD)

Raise, raise the voice, Z334
circa 1685; Ode for St Cecilia's Day
author of text

Symphony  [2'55]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Two of Purcell’s Odes, both written to celebrate St Cecilia’s Day, are for reduced forces. Raise, raise the voice and Laudate Ceciliam are both scored for three voices (rather than the usual four), with an accompaniment of just two violins and basso continuo. We are not sure in which year Raise, raise the voice was first performed, though its similarity in scoring with Laudate Ceciliam (which is dated 1683) has given some commentators grounds for believing the two Odes may have been performed in the same concert. But 1683 also saw the first performance of the St Cecilia’s Day Ode Welcome to all the pleasures, so it would seem unlikely that Purcell would have written three Odes for the same day in the same year. Our only terminus ante quem comes with the publication of the Ritornello Minuet in the second part of Musick’s Hand-Maid of 1689, when it was arranged for harpsichord, but the Ode clearly dates from well before that time.

Purcell’s Symphony to Raise, raise the voice is as adventurous and ingenious as ever, creating a rich texture from what is only a trio sonata grouping. After the stately first section comes a busy contrapuntal movement, full of angular writing and close imitation, and leading straight into the anonymous author’s Ode. Word-painting is immediately to the fore, with the phrase rising as the words suggest (‘Raise, raise the voice’), and a reference to the lute’s ‘softest notes’ giving immediate inspiration to the continuo players. The full ensemble joins together in an unusual Purcellian texture: with no countertenors and no viola, the usual centre to the texture needs replacing, so Purcell keeps the tenor parts high, and provides the first violin with a descant above the sopranos before an instrumental ritornello rounds off the movement. A short soprano solo leads into the chorus ‘Crown the day with Harmony’, which is rounded off by the pretty Ritornello Minuet.

The centrepiece of the Ode is another remarkable ground bass, a jaunty setting of ‘Mark how readily each pliant string’, where Purcell’s insistently cheerful four-bar bass forms the background for a splendidly characterful soprano solo. The ‘pliant string’ prepares itself to a jazzy rhythm, the offering ‘of some gentle sound’ slinkily rises up the chromatic scale and, invited by the words ‘Then altogether’, first the two violins join the texture ‘in harmonious lays’, and then the whole chamber ensemble—with a wonderful line for the tenors. The best is yet to come, for the two violins’ closing ritornello caps the movement with some of the most extraordinary instrumental writing in Purcell’s entire output of Odes. Here is music of astonishing originality, breathtaking in seemingly breaking all the rules of harmony and counterpoint and still somehow ending in the right key!

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)  
'Essential Purcell' (KING2)
Essential Purcell
Buy by post £4.50 This album is not yet available for download KING2  Super-budget price sampler  
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