Movement 1: Symphony
Movement 2: What shall be done in behalf of the man?
Michael George (bass), James Bowman (countertenor), Charles Daniels (tenor), The King's Consort, Robert King (conductor)
Movement 3: All the grandeur he possesses
Movement 4: Mighty Charles, though joined with thee
Movement 5: May all factious troubles cease
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