Hyperion Records

Unto thee will I cry, Z63
circa 1682/5
author of text
Psalm 28: 1-3, 5-7

'Purcell: The Complete Anthems and Services, Vol. 10' (CDA66707)
Purcell: The Complete Anthems and Services, Vol. 10
MP3 £6.99FLAC £6.99ALAC £6.99Buy by post £13.99 (ARCHIVE SERVICE) CDA66707  Archive Service; also available on CDS44141/51  
'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)  
Track 11 on CDA66707 [12'51] Archive Service; also available on CDS44141/51
Track 11 on CDS44141/51 CD10 [12'51] 11CDs Boxed set (at a special price)

Unto thee will I cry, Z63
The ‘Royal’ manuscript, one of Purcell’s most important autograph collections copied before 1685, contains fourteen anthems by Purcell, including the magnificent setting of Unto thee will I cry. No exact date can be ascribed to this composition, but it was probably written between 1682 and 1685, the period when the majority of Purcell’s anthems with strings were composed.

Throughout the music for strings is wonderfully crafted, beginning with a fine two-section Symphony: the short, imitative opening immediately sets the wistful tone that is such a feature of Purcell’s string writing, and the triple-time section that follows carries, beneath its veneer of courtly dance, a great melancholy. The solo bass’s first entry overlaps the end of the Symphony, and is accompanied by two violins: John Gostling’s astonishing vocal range may have been in Purcell’s mind, for the solo utilises the furthest extremes of the voice, crying at the top of the register and descending to the depths for ‘they that go into the pit’. The countertenor and tenor join the bass soloist at ‘Hear the voice of my humble petitions’, moving into an elegant triple metre for ‘When I hold up my hands’. That theme forms the basis for an extended orchestral ritornello which leads directly to the trio ‘O pluck me not away’. The back-dottings of ‘therefore shall he break them down’ are briefly taken up by the strings in another ritornello before they change key and metre for another instrumental symphony.

This section leads first into the joyful solo trio ‘Praised be the Lord’ and then into a grand, nine-part dialogue between soloists, chorus and orchestra. ‘The Lord is my strength of my life’ is imaginatively set for solo tenor, full of characterful melismas, and leads into the finest part of the anthem, an extended set of Alleluias. Here is Purcell at his compelling best, lilting through wonderfully characterful vocal phrases and building the movement with consummate skill. The orchestral ritornello which follows is a masterpiece, with a viola line which apparently defies all the rules of harmony and counterpoint and yet somehow arrives back in the correct place at the right time before the choir exultantly end a magnificent anthem.

from notes by Robert King ©

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Details for CDS44141/51 disc 10 track 11
Recording date
1 April 1994
Recording venue
St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Ben Turner
Recording engineer
Philip Hobbs
Hyperion usage
  1. Purcell: The Complete Anthems and Services, Vol. 10 (CDA66707)
    Disc 1 Track 11
    Release date: October 1994
    Deletion date: May 2006
    Archive Service; also available on CDS44141/51
  2. Purcell: The Complete Sacred Music (CDS44141/51)
    Disc 10 Track 11
    Release date: November 2002
    11CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
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