SEON - Philips
1 LP - 6575 016 - (p) 1974
1 LP - RL 30767 - (p) 1981
1 CD - S2K 60097 - (c) 1998


John BLOW (1649-1708) An Ode, on the Death of Mr. Henry Purcell - for 2 countertenors, 2 recorders, and continuo (cello and harpsichord)

24' 34"

- Mark how the Lark and linnet sing 9' 04"

- So ceas'd the rival Crew when Purcell came 3' 06"

- We beg not Hell, our Orpheus to restore
5' 14"

- The Heav'nly Quire, who heard his Notes from High 7' 10"

Songs from "Amphion Anglicus", London 1700

- "Cloe found Amintas lying" - (A Song for Three Voices) for 2 sopranos, bass, and continuo (cello and Harpsichord)
5' 51" B1

- "Whu weeps Asteria?" - (A Single Song) for soprano and continuo (cello and harpsichord)

4' 22" B2

- "Loving above Himself" - ("Poor Celadon, he sighs") for contralto, 2 violins, and continuo (cello and harpsichord)
4' 08" B3

- "Shepherds, Deck tour Crooks" - for soprano, contralto, bass, and continuo (cello and harpsichord)
2' 29" B4

- "Ah Heav'n! what is't I Hear?" - for contralto, tenor, and continuo (cello and harpsichord)
3' 06" B5

- Epilogue: "Sing, Sing ye Muses" - (A song for Four Voices and Two Violins, at an Entertainment of Musick in York Buildings)
3' 47" B6

An Ode, on the Death of Mr. Henry Purcell
Songs from "Amphion Anglicus"

René Jacobs, James Bowman, countertenors Nobuko Yamamoto, Nelly van der Speek, sopranos
Ricardo Kanji, Marion Verbruggen, recorders René Jacobs, countertenor
Anner Byslma, baroque cello Marius van Altena, tenor
Gustav Leonhardt, harpsichordist and conductor Max van Egmond, bass

Marie Leonharst, Antoniette van den Hombergh, baroque violins

Anner Byslma, baroque cello

Gustav Leonhardt, harpsichordist and conductor

Luogo e data di registrazione
Doopsgezinde Kerk, Amsterdam (Holland) - Gennaio 1973

Registrazione: live / studio

Producer / Recording Supervisor
Wolf Erichson

Recording Engineer

Dieter Thomsen

Prima Edizione LP
Seon (Philips) | 6575 016 | 1 LP - durata 48' 35" | (p) 1974 | ANA

Seon (RCA Red Seal) | RL 30767 | 1 LP - durata 48' 35" | (p) 1981 | ANA

Edizione CD
Sony | SBK 60097 | 1 CD - durata 48' 35" | (c) 1998 | ADD

Original Cover



Artistically the Elizabethan epoch was a splendid period for English music, but under John Blow (1649-1708) and his gifted pupil Henry Purcell (1659-1695, English music blossomed anew in the second half of the seventeenth century. Little has come to fight about Blow's youth. He began his musical career as a chorister in the Royal Chapel. Very mature for his years, the boy began to compose at the age of 14. In 1668 he became organist at Westminster Abbey and later also at the Royal Chaper where, from 1674 he was responsible for the musical education of the choiboys. In recognition of his great services to the field of music he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music in 1677 by the Dean of Canterbury. In 1689 the King made him responsible fpr the composition of private music. Blow's musical output is extremely broad in scope, extending to almost all musical genres: in addition to the masque "Venus and Adonis", an impressive example of an early English opera, he composed no fewer than 111 anthems, numerous motets and services, several extensive collections of songs, keyboard music, and odes for special occasions.
Among these occasional compositions, the Ode on the Death of Mr. Henry Purcell stands out as a significant work. Blow had always encouraged his pupil and had in 1680 handed over to him the position of organist at Westminster Abbey. The early death of the highly gifted Purcell touched Blow deeply. In this composition, published in 1696 and based on an allegorical poem by John Dryden, he created for him a fitting musical monument. The work is scored for two counter-tenors, two alto recorders, and thorough-bass. analogous to the three-verse structure of Dryden's elegy, two tutti corner movements embrace a middle section with a broadly extended part for soloist, which is built upon the "intensification" principale. autonomous musical structures and detailed verbal interpretation hold the balance in this composition. Careful contrapuntal work is demonstrated in close canonic interlocking of the singing and instrumental voices. Yet it never becomes purely self-sufficient: always, in the final analysis, it underlines the dignity and seriousness on the text in question. The same is true of the coloratura of the singers. Melismata con words like "sing" or "music" are self-explanatory from the context. Many musical phases are in accordance with Baroque expressive theory, which emphasizes rhetorically appropriate presentation and interpretation of the words. What is indisputably the best example of the close relationship of words and music is, however, the musical setting of the lines "The Pow's of Harmony too well they know" in the solo section of the second verse, roughly in the middle of the composition. Blow repeats this three times in ever new and sometimes bold harmonic elaboration and finally allows the power of harmony to reach a climax in the radiant key of C major.
Even within the musical genre of the thorough-bass song for one to four voices - a genre that was late in reaching England - both Blow and Purcell created major compositions of unmistakably national character. The cross-section presented here from the 50 pieces that make up his famous collection of songs "Amphion Anglicus" (published in 1700), gives us some insight into the multi-faceted character of Blow's art. The pastoral poetry of Cloe found Amintas is close to the old madrigal poetry. Amintas who is languishing with love is redeemed from his agony by Cloe's kisses. The pointed emphasis on "Kiss me dear" is highlighted by Blow by means of chromatic passages. Asteria's song of lament after she has been deserted by Alcander in Why Weeps Asteria is composed in the form of a dramatic scene. Here Blow interprets all the nuances of the text by means of frequent changes of time and metre and by using the solo voice as if in an expressive air. Loving above Himself deals
with Celadon's unrequited love for the unattainable Euginia, with the moral: Do not love above your station! The expressive four-voices movement in richly modulated form culminates in a long final coloratura. Shepherds Deck your Crooks sings happily and joyfully of the Spring with an introductory solo and a three-voice chorus of dance-like rhythm above an almost ostinato bass. The love song Ah Heav'n! What is't I hear revels in the harmony of the third-sixth melody, rich in suspensions, of the two voices. There is an expressive interchanging of minor and major in this sensitively and smoothly shaped duet. Sing, sing ye Muses is a four-voice choral movement sung in praise of the Muses and accompanied by two additional instruments. Blow composed it as an epilogue to a musical occasion in York buildings. The dynamic, imitative piece in 3/4 dance rhythm is effectively constructed accending to the "intensification" principle.
Lothar Hoffman-Erbrecht