On 9 January 1694 Trinity College Dublin celebrated the hundredth anniversary of its foundation by Queen Elizabeth with a service at Christ Church Cathedral ‘sung by the principal Gentlemen of the Kingdom’ which was accompanied by orations in Latin and ‘an Ode by Mr Tate’ (the Poet Laureate) ‘who was bred up in this College’. For Great Parent, Hail to Thee!
the librettist of Dido and Aeneas
produced one of his weaker offerings, but Purcell still produced extraordinarily fine music. The Symphony is suitably celebratory, with the imitative second section neatly crafted, and the opening chorus full of variety and vigour. The alto solo ‘Another Century commencing’ finds Purcell writing gloriously lyrical music for his favourite voice, and the duet that follows (‘After War’s Alarms repeated’) contains effective word-painting in the echoes of the word ‘repeated’. The bass solo ‘Awful Matron’ is an outstanding movement which shows marvellous control of the solo line. The tenor solo and chorus ‘She was the first who did inspire’ also makes charming use of echoes, the duet ‘Succeeding Princes’ is full of lovely harmonies and the chorus ‘But chiefly Recommend to Fame’ opens out gloriously at its end. The soprano solo ‘Thy Royal Patron sung’ (one of the few extended arias for soprano in the Odes) is another triumph of Purcell’s fertile imagination, effectively written with the two recorders bringing added pathos, and the closing chorus is liltingly joyous.
from notes by Robert King © 2010