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She loves and she confesses too, Z413
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'Essential Purcell' (KING2)
Essential Purcell
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'Purcell: The complete secular solo songs' (CDS44161/3)
Purcell: The complete secular solo songs
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She loves and she confesses too, Z413
This is the earliest of Purcell’s three settings of poems from Abraham Cowley’s The Mistress (1656) composed, according to the Chichester Manuscript (MS Cap. VI/1/1), in 1680. It was a popular setting that appears in at least four principal manuscript sources, as well as being published in the fourth book of Choice Ayres (1683) and in Orpheus Britannicus. To those familiar with Purcell’s sacred devotional songs (all recorded on Hyperion in The Complete Anthems and Services), Cowley’s graphically descriptive poetry will be familiar. Cowley (1618–1667) was the leading English poet of his time whose writing was much admired.

Over Purcell’s hypnotically repeating ground bass the author joyfully and triumphantly celebrates his conquest in love. But suddenly an unexpected foe is spotted: ‘Bold Honour’. The composer’s musical depiction of this invisible enemy – ‘Noisy nothing, stalking shade’ – is particularly imaginative, as is the slinky harmony of ‘By what witchcraft wert thou made’. But our lover is not to be defeated, and vows to ‘find out counter charms’ to remove his new, invisible opponent. Scheming to ‘rid myself of thee’ Purcell’s harmony is deliciously blue. The poet will defeat Honour, and capture this lady, at night.

from notes by Robert King 2003

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