Purcell: The Complete Anthems and Services, Vol. 4
CDA66644 Archive Service; also available on CDS44141/51
The opening shakes the dead from their slumbers, the repeated cries of ‘Awake’ mixed with rapid-fire trumpet calls; the only respite comes from the contrasting minor harmony of ‘to sleep no more’. The continuo instruments violently launch us into ‘Hark! from aloft’, their thunderous repeated semiquavers competing with the vocal parts, imitating a ‘noise so loud it deafs the ocean’s roar’: the voices are alternately ‘alarm’d’ and ‘amaz’d’ as the ‘clatt’ring orbs’ tumble from the top of the singers’ ranges. The ‘virtuous soul alone’ enters in gently swinging triple-time, the word ‘unmov’d’ doing exactly that in the music, to be replaced by violent semiquavers as the very foundations of the earth shake. The virtuous soul ‘ascends, and mocks the universal wreck’, whose destruction has been so vividly characterised in just three minutes of chamber music.
from notes by ©