About this Recording
8.554262 - PURCELL: Tempest (The)
English 

Henry Purcell (1659-1695)
The Tempest; If ever I more riches did desire; Trumpet Pieces

The English composer Henry Purcell died at a tragically young age, a victim of a cold he caught, having been locked out by his wife because he had come home too late, according to one account of the matter. Yet, for his thirty-six years, he wrote an extraordinary amount of music, both religious and secular. By the age of eighteen he had spent eight years in the service of the Chapel Royal, until 1673 as a chorister and thereafter as an assistant to the Keeper of the King's Instruments. By 1677, when he was appointed by King Charles II to the post of Composer in Ordinary for the Violins, on the death of his friend and mentor, Matthew Locke, he had already been composing for ten years.

With the restoration of the English monarchy in 1660, King Charles II, who had spent part of his exile in France, was quick to bring back music again to the court and theatre. He restored the practices of the Church of England which had prevailed before the ten years of Puritan dictatorship and established a Band of Twenty-Four Violins on the model of the Vingt-Quatre Violons of Louis XIV. This is the model used for the present recording.

The setting of Abraham Cowley's If ever I more riches did desire, Z. 544, a poem based on Seneca, was written in the 1680s, presumably for performance at court. It is a type of miniature cantata on the theme of the transitoriness of life. Central is the ground for tenor, Here let my life with as much silence slide, in which the descending figure in the bass symbolizes the inexorable passing of time. This sets up a poignant mood of yearning with the violin and voice. The work prefigures the dramatic music of the 1690s.

The return of King Charles II had a huge impact on the theatre. After years of disuse under the rule of Cromwell, the theatres were reopened and there was a new explosion of creativity. Old plays were rewritten or adapted in various ways, with the ever-present example of French opera and ballet. The result was an increase in the amount of music and dance in the plays, but, while the French and Italians had developed the form of opera, a continuous flow of dramatic music, composers in England at this time favoured masques, additional elements usually between acts of a play and not central to the dramatic theme. With Purcell's hand the music came to rival the spoken text resulting in what Roger North called a semi-opera. Dioclesian, The Fairy Queen, King Arthur and The Indian Queen stand on their own, even without the spoken text.

The music for The Tempest is a characteristic example of theatre-music of the time. The first Restoration revival of Shakespeare's play The Tempest was in 1667 in an adaptation by John Dryden. This was revised in 1674 by Thomas Shadwell with a version that seems to have been used until the 1690s, when the adaptation presented here, and long attributed to Purcell, became popular. Nevertheless only Dorinda's song, Dear pretty youth ([10]) is definitely by Purcell. For this reason this beautiful music has enjoyed less favour. Even in his later works Purcell never wrote Italianate da capo arias, as heard here, and this has added further doubt to its authenticity.

The version of The Tempest presented on this recording is from an early eighteenth century copy (attributed to Purcell) in the library of the University of Toronto. It differs from other versions in depicting the characters of the second act as Spirits and not Devils and in the omission of the chorus Nereids and Tritons from the fifth act. The Dance of the Winds ([5]), Come unto these yellow sands ([6]) and Dance of the Spirits ([9]), exist in two-part versions and so were reconstructed by the conductor. We have added the Overture (Z. 770), which is a French- style overture to an unknown Purcell work and ended with the Chacony (Z. 730), a well-known example of Purcell's inventive imagination, a movement on a ground-bass with some eighteen repetitions of the same bass-line in four minutes of music.

The two trumpet works by Purcell included confirm the view that the most interesting trumpet writing in the seventeenth century was his. It has been suggested that the Sonata in D, Z. 850, may be the overture to a lost Purcell ode, Light of the World.

Other matters worthy of note in this recording are the use of the wind-machine ([5]), reconstructed after seventeenth-century models. As was usual at the time, particularly in France, and following the practices of both the Band of Twenty-Four Violins and the French court Vingt-Quatre Violons, oboes, recorders and bassoons are added to the score.

Kevin Mallon


 

The Tempest

 

1st Spirit: Brett Polegato

2nd Spirit: Paul Grindlay

3rd Spirit: Robert Stewart

Ariel: Rosemarie van der Hooft

Dorinda: Gillian Keith

Amphitrite: Meredith Hall

Neptune: Brett Polegato

Æolus: Michael Calvin

 

 

 

Act Two – Masque or Spirits

 

 

[2]

No.2 Trio and Chorus

1st Spirit

Where does the black fiend Ambition reside

With the mischievous Devil of Pride?

 

2nd Spirit

In the lowest and darkest caverns of Hell

Both Pride and Ambition do dwell.

 

1st Spirit

Who are the chief leaders of the damn'd host?

 

3rd Spirit

Proud monarch, who tyrannise most

 

Chorus

In Hell in Hell with flames they shall reign,

And for ever, for ever shall suffer the pain.

 

1st Spirit

Who are the pillars of the tyrant’s court?

 

3rd Spirit

Rapine and Murder his crown must support.

 

2nd Spirit

His cruelty does tread on orphan's tender breast and brothers dead.

Can Heav'n permit such crimes should be

Attended with felicity?

 

1st & 2nd Spirits

No! tyrants their sceptres uneasily wear,

In the midst of their guards their consciences fear.

 

Chorus

Care their minds when they wake unquiet will keep,

And we with dire visions disturb all their sleep.

 

2:12

[3]

No. 3 Chorus

Around, around we pace

About this cursed place

While thus we compass in

These mortals and their sin.

 

1:45

[4]

No. 4 Air

2nd Spirit

Arise, arise, ye subterranean winds,

More 10 distract their guilty minds.

Arise, ye minds whose rapid force can make

All but the fix'd and solid centre shake;

Come drive these wretches to that part o' th' Isle

Where Nature never vet did smile.

Come fogs and damp', whirlwinds and earthquakes there,

There let them howl and languish in despair

Rise and obey the pow'rful prince o' th' air.

 

3:08

[5]

No. 5 Dance of the Winds

 

Act Three

 

1:15

[6]

No. 6 Song and Chorus

Ariel

Come unto these yellow sands

And there take hands;

Foot it featly here and there

And let the rest the chorus bear.

 

Chorus

Hark! hark! the watchdogs bark,

Hark! hark! hear the strain of Chanticlere.

 

No. 6 coot. Song and Chorus

Ariel

Full fathom five thy father lies;

Of his bones are coral, made.

Those are pearls that were his eyes

Nothing of him that doth fade,

But doth suffer a sea change

Into something rich and strange.

 

Chorus

Sea-nymph, hourly ring his knell;

Hark! now I hear them, ding dong bell.

 

3:56

[7]

No. 7 Air

Ariel

Dry those eves which are o'erflowing,

All your storm, are overblowing.

While you in this isle are biding,

You shall feast without providing,

Ev'ry dainty yon can think of,

Ev'ry wine that you can drink of,

Shall be yours and want shall shun you,

Ceres' blessing too is on you.

 

5:34

[8]

No. 8 Air

Ariel

Kind fortune smiles and she

Has yet in store for thee

 

0:58

[9]

No. 9 Dance of Spirits

 

0:38

[10]

No. 10 Air

Dorinda

Dear pretty youth unveil those eyes

How can you sleep

When I am by

Were I with you all night to be

Methinks I could from sleep be tree

Alas! My dear, you're cold as stone

You must no longer lie alone

But be with me my dear

And I in each arm

Will hug you close and keep you warm.

 

Act Five – Neptune’s Masque

 

1:58

[11]

No. 11 Recit. and Air

Amphitrite

Great Neptune! now no more

Let Æolus enrage the sea;

Let him my will obey,

Till these arrive upon the wish'd for shore.

 

Neptune

My dear, my Amphitrite,

All! Wish is to delight thee.

Fair and serene,

Like thee my Queen,

The region of the air shall be;

At Neptune’s call

The winds shall fall,

Nor longer vex the region of the sea.

 

4:05

[12]

No. 12 Recit. and Air

Neptune

Æolus, you must appear,

My great commands to hear,

Rough Æolus, appear!

While these pass o'er the deep,

Your stormy winds must cease,

While these I safely keep,

I'll bless my wat'ry realms with peace.

 

3:09

[13]

No. 13 Recit. and Air

Æolus

Your awful voice I hear and I obey,

Brother to Jove und monarch of the sea.

Come down, my blusterers,

Swell no more,

Your stormy rage give o'er.

To your prisons below,

Down you must go.

In hollow rocks your revels make,

Nor till I call, your trembling dens forsake.

 

4:24

[14]

No. 14 Air

Amphitrite

Halcyon days, now wars are ending,

You shall find wheree'er you sail,

Tritons all the while attending

With a kind und gentle gale.

 

7:26

[15]

No. 15 Air

Neptune

See, see, the heavens smile,

With clouds no more o'ercast,

In this now happy isle

Are all your sorrows past.

 

5:01

[16]

No. 16 Duet and Chorus

Amphitrite and Neptune

No stars again shall hurt you from above,

But all your days shall pass in peace and love.

 

Amphitrite

But all your days,

 

Amphitrite and Neptune

But all your days shall pass in peace and love.

 

Chorus

No stars again shall hurt you from above,

But all your days shall pass in peace and love.

 

3:12

[18]

If ever I more riches did desire, Z. 544

Text by Abraham Cowley

 

Symphony

 

Soprano solo and Chorus (Meredith Hall)

If ever I more riches did desire

Than cleanliness and quiet do require,

If e'er Ambition did my Fancy cheat

With any wish so mean as to be great,

Continue, Heav'n, still from me to remove

The humble blessings of this life I love.

 

Bass solo (Paul Grindlay)

Upon the slippery tops of human state,

The gilded Pinnacles of fate,

Let others proudly stand: And for a while

The giddy danger to beguile,

With joy and with disdain look down on all

Till their heads turn and down they fall.

 

Duet (Meredith Hall, Gillian Keith)

Me, O ye Gods, on Earth or else so near

That I no fall to earth may fear,

And, O ye Gods, at a good distance seat

From the long ruins of the Great,

Here wrapt in the arms of quiet let me lie,

Quiet companion of Obscurity.

 

Tenor solo (Nils Brown)

Here let my life with as much silence slide

As Time that measures it doth glide,

Nor let the Breath of Infamy or Fame

From town to town echo about my name.

Nor let my homely Death embroider'd be

With Scutcheon or with Elegy.

 

Chorus

An old Plebeian let me die:

Alas, all then are such as well as I.

 

Soprano solo and Chorus (Gillian Keith)

To him, alas, to him I fear

The face of Death will terrible appear

Who in his life flatt'ring his senseless Pride

By being known to all the World beside,

Does not himself when he is dying know

Nor what he is nor, whither he's to go.

 

11:38

Performing Edition: Kevin Mallon (Socan)


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