Hyperion Records

Ah! cruel nymph!, Z352
Ah! cruel nymph! was probably copied into the Gresham Manuscript around May 1693. It was also later printed in the second edition of Orpheus Britannicus. A mini-cantata, it shows Purcell’s development of the Italian style, fusing arioso and recitative. The opening explores a running bass line, which is only finally established after an extravagantly florid roulade for the singer on ‘delight’. Despite this peacock-like display, the lover’s ‘nymph’ still refuses his entreaties to cease reproaching him for a previous flirtation with Sylvia. In a more serious section of recitative the singer complains that Sylvia sustained for too long ‘Her conquest when her love was feign’d’. In a dancing triple time the poet realizes that this new lady, ‘charming, airy, humorous and gay’, has finally enabled him to see true love.

from notes by Robert King 2003

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