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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA66587
Recording details: December 1991
St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Ben Turner
Engineered by Antony Howell & Robert Menzies
Release date: June 1992
Total duration: 14 minutes 38 seconds

'I find it difficult to conceive of better informed or more inspired performances than these … a treat to discover and a delight to return to' (CDReview)

What shall be done in behalf of the man?, Z341
1682; Welcome Song for the Duke of York
author of text

Symphony  [2'47]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Purcell’s third Ode, What shall be done in behalf of the man?, was written to celebrate the return of the Duke of York (later James II) from Scotland, where he had been High Commissioner since 1679. We are not certain exactly when the Ode was performed, but we know that James left Leith on 4 March 1682 and arrived at Yarmouth six days later, joining the Court at Newmarket on 11 March. Some writers have suggested that Purcell’s Ode was performed then, but it seems more likely that it was written to celebrate a later return. After a further visit to Scotland the Duke returned to London on 27 May: Luttrell records that ‘at night there were ringing of bells, and bonefires in severall places, and other publick expressions of joy’.

Once again Purcell produces a fine Symphony, with its stately, dotted opening nonetheless leaving room for the wistful minor harmonies which make Purcell’s string writing so appealing. The busily contrapuntal second section is equally imaginative and leads straight into the bass’s opening solo, accompanied by two recorders, praising the Duke’s success in defeating the rebellion of Monmouth. A trio continues the praise of James, reminding the listeners that he is next in line for the throne, and the chorus too takes up the lilting theme before a jaunty ritornello, similar to ones by Purcell’s mentor John Blow in its alternation of strings and wind, closes the section. ‘All the grandeur he possesses’ is set most attractively for high tenor, and is transformed into a simple string ritornello of great beauty. The next chorus ‘Therefore let us sing the praises’ finds Purcell at his most homophonic, but with harmonies that show great craftsmanship. The extended bass solo ‘Mighty Charles’ is another example of Purcell’s genius for word-setting, full of nobility and character, and leads into the lilting chorus ‘But thanks be to Heaven’. Here we see the composer’s humour coming out in the long list of fine characteristics that James is advertised as possessing: Purcell may have been amused to decide which member of his ensemble should take the solo words ‘grateful’, ‘just’, ‘courageous’ and—best of all—‘punctual’. The Ode closes with the charming soprano duet ‘May all factious troubles cease’, fleshed out by the composer into a chorus: delightfully the instruments take the repeats before the complete ensemble is instructed to perform it again, ‘Leaving out ye interludes of ye instruments between, and sing it thro, each strain twice, so conclude’.

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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