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See how the fading glories of the year, Z470

Comes Amoris III, 1689
author of text

This delicious song appears first in 1689 in the third book of Comes Amoris and was reprinted the next year in the fourth (and last) book of Heptinstall’s The Banquet of Musick. It was also included in the second and third editions of Orpheus Britannicus. The subject is Panthea, another stock Arcadian character who, in the first phrase, we see is so attractive that even autumn stops its progress to greet her. Purcell sets the first sentence as far as ‘smile’, and then repeats the text, subtly altering the musical line and extending the glorious phrase. The Dog-Star of the third line is Sirius, the brightest of the stars, which rises and sets with the sun and had a traditional association with madness. It was featured in a number of contemporary poems such as D’Urfey’s ‘I’ll sail upon the Dog Star’ (in Don Quixote, set by Purcell) and the traditional ‘Loving, mad Tom – I’le bark against the Dog-Star’. The ‘ever-blooming joys’ which Panthea’s eyes create are set to rapturous melismas. The second stanza, ‘All nature to her charms’ moves to a lilting triple metre (the ‘Elysian fields’ being the Greek heaven) and features a ravishing imitation of nightingales attempting Panthea’s ‘inimitable graces’ before the ‘more wanton hills and groves’ echo back her ‘heav’nly voice’. But, after such delightful music, all is not well in this love affair, and the last two lines of text are set as a duet as the ‘pains rage’; the nearer our poet gets to his love, the worse things become, for she will not respond to his love. (The ‘burning glass of ice’ means a magnifying glass.)

from notes by Robert King © 2003


Purcell: Secular solo songs, Vol. 1
CDA66710Archive Service; also available on CDS44161/3
Purcell: The complete secular solo songs
CDS44161/33CDs Boxed set (at a special price)


Track 26 on CDA66710 [2'52] Archive Service; also available on CDS44161/3
Track 26 on CDS44161/3 CD1 [2'52] 3CDs Boxed set (at a special price)

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