Purcell Birthday Odes for Queen Mary

More superb Pucell from The King's Consort and its fabulous line-up of soloists

Purcell Birthday Odes for Queen Mary

Purcell's Royal Odes from these very forces were the focus of a Classical Explorer post here. Robert King and his The King's Consort are back with  Birthday Odes for Queen Mary: Arise My Muse (1690), Love's goddess sure (1692); Celebrate this festival (1693); ths idsc is just as fine as the previous onw.

As with the previous disc, the recording venue was the Fairfield Halls, Croydon The first Ode, Arise My Muse (Z 320, 1690) is full of joy and vivacity. Try the glorious "Sound your instruments":

There is introspection here, too, in the characteritic form of the ground (the music unfolds over a repeated bassline) in the magnificent "See how the glitt'ring ruler oft he day," here with the wonderful Charles Daniels:

It is followed by a movement in praise of the Queen ("Hail, gracious Gloriana, hail"). What a huge variety of emotion tehre is in this Ode. Just listen to the lachrymose beginnig to the final movement, "But, ah, I see Eusebia drown'd in tears," with the superb high tenor David de Witter as soloist, later joined bybass Mattyhew Brook:

The second Ode, Love's goddess sure was blind, (Z 331, 1692). It would be remiss not to quote a movement that featured teh wonderful Iestyn Davies, so here he is in the second movement (whih shares its title with teh Ode as a whole);

The scoring for the bass "Those eyes, that form, that lofty mien" is fascinating, almost enigmatic; Purcell witholds the two recorders (the only two non-stringed instruments in this Ode) for the opening of the ensuing duet for counter-tenor and tenor, "Sweetness of Nature," the epitome of Purecll at his most beautiful and poignant:

Just one more excerpt from thsi lovely, gentle Ode: "Long may she reign over this isle," partially because any post that had the opportunity to showcase Carolyn Sampson's glorious voice and failed to do so would be most remiss:

Worth noting the very next movement is both massively contrasinve and fascinating. It starts as a dance one might find in Dido and Aeneas for the sailors, yet as it progresses, one is overtaken by the laden sense of darkness it exudes:

Finally, Celebrate this Festival (Z 321, 1693), its opening "Symphony" garlanded with the sounds of two trumpets and two oboes:

What a fabulous way to close the disc: the sheer exuberance of Purcell's writing is infectious:

Neil Brough's trumpet solos compement Sampson perfectly in "'Tis sacred, bid the trumpet cease":

Another ground here, more active this time, in "Crown the alter" (Iesytn Davies) but perhaps most notable in this piece is "While for a righteous cause he arms," a remarkable duet for bass (Brook) and trumpet which concludes with an eleven-part shimmering texture:

This disc was released September 24, 2021. You can see a most informative video documentary of the sessions here: