Hyperion Records

O, I'm sick of life, Z140
circa 1680
author of text
after Job

'Purcell: The Complete Anthems and Services, Vol. 5' (CDA66656)
Purcell: The Complete Anthems and Services, Vol. 5
Buy by post £13.99 (ARCHIVE SERVICE) CDA66656  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)  
Track 8 on CDA66656 [5'16] Archive Service; also available on CDS44141/51
Track 8 on CDS44141/51 CD5 [5'16] 11CDs Boxed set (at a special price)

O, I'm sick of life, Z140
Purcell’s devotional trio O, I’m sick of life, a setting of one of George Sandys’ dark paraphrases of the book of Job, dates from around 1680. Sandys (1578-1644) was an especially well-travelled graduate of Oxford University, a liberal intellectual and a member of Viscount Falkland’s learned circle who spent ten years in America as the treasurer of the Virginia Company, but also found time to translate Ovid’s Metamorphoses and write a considerable amount of his own poetry. With Sandys’ despairing text, taken from his Paraphrase upon the Divine poems (1676), Purcell was on fertile ground, and his setting does not disappoint.

The tortured harmonies of the first bars create an astonishing opening, and the sequence of solos, duets and trios that come after are of equally high musical stature. After the opening comes a tenor solo, illustrating the darkness of night, before the trio returns to ask ‘What, are thy days as frail as ours?’. The tenor solo ‘cannot my known integrity’ is especially dolorous and sets the word ‘remember’ (a particular favourite of Purcell’s) with particular poignancy. With so little time left to live, the author asks that he may be granted ‘a little ease to these my torments’, and the music winds down to ‘where all in silence mourn’. The ending is as extraordinary as the opening, with the empty ‘land where death, confusion, endless night and horror reign’ coloured in the most desolate music.

from notes by Robert King ©

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