Hyperion Records

Plung'd in the confines of despair, Z142
composer
circa 1680
author of text
Psalm 130

Recordings
'Purcell: The Complete Anthems and Services, Vol. 6' (CDA66663)
Purcell: The Complete Anthems and Services, Vol. 6
Buy by post £13.99 (ARCHIVE SERVICE) CDA66663  Archive Service; also available on CDS44141/51   Download currently discounted
'Purcell: The Complete Sacred Music' (CDS44141/51)
Purcell: The Complete Sacred Music
Buy by post £40.00 CDS44141/51  11CDs Boxed set (at a special price)  
Details
Track 9 on CDA66663 [4'41] Archive Service; also available on CDS44141/51
Track 9 on CDS44141/51 CD6 [4'41] 11CDs Boxed set (at a special price)

Plung'd in the confines of despair, Z142
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Plung’d in the confines of despair is one of several settings which Purcell made of psalm paraphrases by the poet John Patrick around 1680. Two autograph sources survive, one in Birmingham’s Barber Institute, and another, probably a more definitive version, in the British Museum. The subject matter of most of Patrick’s psalms is doleful, and his version of Psalm 130 is no exception.

Purcell’s opening is masterful, playing falling chromaticism against the rising tension of the vocal entries and climaxing with ‘to God I cried’. ‘O, lend to me a gracious ear’ is more gentle in its harmony, and each voice in turn falls down the musical scale at ‘Not sunk so low’. The bass majestically questions ‘who would be able to abide thy censure?’ and melismatically illustrates the turning of men before a trio ends the first section. The first tenor begins ‘My soul less brooks thy seeming stay’ alone, but is joined, with a wonderful shift into the minor, by his two colleagues at ‘The frailty of our state he knows.’ ‘To humble souls he gracious is’ takes each voice to the lowest extreme of its range, slowly building through eight statements of the point to the final sentence ‘And pardons what they have done amiss’. Here Purcell gives the bass voice a line independent of the continuo part, creating harmony which is especially rich.

from notes by Robert King ©

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