Please wait...

Hyperion Records

Click cover art to view larger version
Track(s) taken from CDA66609
Recording details: February 1992
St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Ben Turner
Engineered by Philip Hobbs
Release date: May 1992
Total duration: 5 minutes 54 seconds

'The unfamiliar verse anthems come radiantly alive. Surely after this airing several of them will become far more widely performed. I can't wait for Volume 3' (Organists' Review)

'A magical disc. I could not recommend this CD more strongly' (CDReview)

Behold now, praise the Lord, Z3
circa 1680
author of text
Psalm 134: 1-3

Symphony  [2'37]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Behold now, praise the Lord is one of Purcell’s earliest anthems, which some scholars have dated as early as 1678 when the composer would have been all of nineteen years old. Whatever the age of its composer, the anthem’s craftsmanship, especially the string writing, is utterly extraordinary. The opening section of the Symphony is one of Purcell’s finest pieces of church string writing. With his daring harmonic and melodic lines Purcell produces a gloriously wistful piece of music. For a composer at the height of his powers such writing would be a highlight; from a teenager it is almost inconceivable. For the second section Purcell resists the temptation to use a contrapuntal, triple-time movement such as his teacher Blow was already using, and instead writes in the more homophonic, dance-like style that Pelham Humfrey had used. In the only autograph source (the second volume of Flackton’s collection, held in the British Library) at the end of the Symphony five bars are added on a separate insert, and between the staves is written ‘NB this wch concludes the Symphony after the verse was most probably Purcell’s ending of this symphony; and therefore inserted to supply what is lost. P. Hayes 1785’. Actually the bars are clearly not by Purcell at all, for they are completely out of character with the rest of the movement (though Hayes, who may have supplied these bars himself, can be forgiven for finding such an individual style difficult to imitate). For this recording Robert King has composed the missing section.

The verse sections are for three voices – alto, tenor and bass – and, following the joyful text, are full of exuberance, though in the opening section Purcell also includes a smoother section ‘ev’n in the courts of the house’ which is expressively picked up in the string ritornello. ‘Lift up your hands’ rises magnificently as its text suggests, and Humfrey’s influence once again surfaces, this time in the magnificently bizarre tenor line at the first cadence of ‘out of Sion’. A lively dotted string ritornello then leads into a large-scale Gloria, over which the young composer proudly wrote ‘10 parts’. Soloists, strings and chorus enter into vigorous antiphony, with the two vocal blocks of sound anchored by more expressive string writing which is able to cut through the heavier textures by careful use of tessitura. At ‘World without end’ the music becomes particularly florid, with some marvellous modulations held by strong pedal notes in the bass violins and an astonishing anthem ends in great opulence.

from notes by Robert King © 1992

Other albums featuring this work
'Purcell: The Complete Sacred Music' (CDS44141/51)
Purcell: The Complete Sacred Music
MP3 £35.00FLAC £35.00ALAC £35.00Buy by post £40.00 CDS44141/51  11CDs Boxed set (at a special price)  
   English   Français   Deutsch