Come, Yes Sons of Art - Henry Purcell (1659 - 1695)


1. Symphony

2.  Come ye sons of art, away (Alto and chorus)

3.  Sound the trumpet (Alto duet, with Lindsay Empson, 2nd alto)

4.  Come ye sons of art away (reprise)

5.  Strike the viol (Alto)

6.  Ritornello

7. The day that such a blessing gave (Bass and chorus)

8.  Bid the virtues (Soprano)

9. These are the sacred charms (Bass)

10.  See nature rejoicing (Soprano and Bass duet; chorus)

For an ambitious composer in post-Restoration and Hanoverian England, the height of professional success was to have your music performed at the royal court. Court musical celebrations could be occasioned by many different events, but royal birthdays were a particular favourite, and there was tradition of performing Odes specially composed for the monarch's birthday.
By the 1690s, Henry Purcell was the brightest star in London's musical firmament. Appointed organist of Westminster Abbey at the age of 20, he also held the appointments of Gentleman of the Chapel Royal and Keeper of the King's Instruments. Early in his career he was noted as a master of the fashionable continental styles of music preferred by Charles II; he was also fascinated by more archaic and learned styles, and was a master of complex counterpoint and harmonic surprise. Come, ye sons of art is the last of many royal Odes he composed, and was for Queen Mary's birthday on 30th April 1694. Purcell's next composition for a monarch was her funeral music in March the following year, 5 months before his own funeral. The text is by the poet Nahum Tate. The soloists and choir enjoin a succession of musical instruments to celebrate the Queen's virtues. In the splendid instrumental symphonies and ritornelli that punctuate the vocal sections, the orchestra is clearly fulfilling this royal command.


Peter Foster