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Purcell: Royal Welcome Songs for Charles II, Vol. 4

The Sixteen/Harry Christophers (CORO)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
COR16187_Purcell

Purcell
Royal Welcome Songs for Charles II, Vol. 4: Theodosius, or The Force of Love; Swifter, Isis, swifter flow etc
The Sixteen/Harry Christophers
CORO COR 16187   74:37 mins

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The contents here are more varied than the title suggests, including an extremely fine setting of Psalm 37, two archaically atmospheric In nomine settings for viol consort and a very rare recording of Purcell’s theatre songs for insertion into Nathaniel Lee’s play Theodosius, or The Force of Love.

The first Welcome Song, ‘Swifter, Isis, Swifter Flow’, was probably written in 1681. There is some impressive music here, such as ‘Hark! Hark! Just now my Listening Ears’ sung stylishly by one of the stars of the disc, the tenor Hugo Hymas. In the ethereal duet ‘The King whose presence’ the soprano voices could have floated a little more easily over the running bass.

The rather routine insertion songs for Nathaniel Lee’s Theodosius challenge the performers – the repetitious strophes of ‘Now the Fight’s Done’ attract no variation of music or delivery, and the suicide song ‘Ah Cruel Bloody Fate’, though quaintly sung, is set as a chirpy ditty. The music of The Summer’s Absence is better. The symphony evinces some fine playing, though the singers have issues with tuning and range in the title song. The highlights are the enticing alto solo ‘And When Late from your Throne’, and the enticing duet ‘So happily still’ (Daniel Collins, Mark Dobell) which magically prefigures ‘Oft she Visits this Lone Mountain’ from Purcell’s Dido.

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Anthony Pryer