Sound the Trumpet: Royal Music of Purcell & Handel
(In the year of Queen Elizabeth II s Diamond Jubilee, Alis...)
In the year of Queen Elizabeth II s Diamond Jubilee, Alison Balsom
celebrates the heroic era of the Baroque trumpet in works by George
Frideric Handel (1685-1759) and Henry Purcell (1658 or 1659-1695),
whose anthems, odes, sinfonias and operas have provided the music for
numerous royal celebrations from their own day to the present.
Joining forces with Trevor Pinnock and the English Concert orchestra
that he founded, Balsom demonstrates the versatility and expressive power
of her valve-less instrument in original works and new arrangements.
These include Purcell s Sound the trumpet and Handel s Eternal Source of
light divine in duet with countertenor Iestyn Davies and Purcell s The
Plaint from The Fairy Queen in duet with soprano Lucy Crowe.
Recently crowned Female Artist of the Year for the second time at the
Classic BRITs, Alison Balsom has cemented an international reputation
as one of classical music s great ambassadors and is ranked among the
most distinctive and ground-breaking musicians on the international
circuit today. Balsom has also been honored with numerous awards by
Gramophone, Classic FM and ECHO Klassik.
Renowned for the originality of his music and his gifts...)
Renowned for the originality of his music and his gifts as a melodist, Henry Purcell (1659–1695) was the preeminent English composer of the seventeenth century and one of the greatest that nation has ever produced. His gifts are apparent not only in the vocal and orchestral works on which his fame rests, but in his delightful keyboard music, much of which is relatively simple and easy to perform. This volume is a near-complete collection of Purcell's keyboard compositions, including the eight suites, the core of his keyboard works. Also included are many miscellaneous one-movement pieces: airs, trumpet tunes (for harpsichord solo), grounds, preludes, dances, etc.
Piano students and pianists of intermediate skills will enjoy these pieces for their charm and accessibility. Gathered here in one convenient, inexpensive volume, they offer a treasury of time-honored music that musicians and music lovers will turn to again and again.
This volume has been edited with a preface by the noted music scholar William Barclay Squire.
Henry Purcell was a British composer and organist most remembered for his more than 100 songs, the miniature opera Dido and Aeneas, and his incidental music to a version of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, called The Fairy Queen. He was the only great figure of English opera until recent times. In all his works he achieved a happy merger of English traditional styles with the new baroque principles from Italy.
Henry Purcell was probably born on September 10, 1659 in Westminster, then a city separate from London. Son of Henry Purcell, Gentleman of the Chapel Royal and Master of the Choristers at Westminster Abbey, he learned early the fundamentals of his art. His parents lived in Great Almonry near the Abbey, until his father died in 1664, at which time the family removed to nearby Tothill Street South. Young Henry was adopted by his uncle Thomas Purcell.
Very little is known of Purcell's schooling. The earliest official document bearing his name is the royal warrant for his dismissal from the Chapel Royal choir, dated December 17, 1673, sometime after his voice had changed. In the Westminster School rolls a Henry Purcell, very likely the composer, is named as a scholar. Shortly after his dismissal from the choir, Henry was apprenticed to John Hingeston, Royal Keeper and Repairer of the Instruments.
In 1674 Henry was employed at Westminster Abbey to tune the organ. He also was paid small amounts as a copyist at the abbey. In 1677, upon the death of Matthew Locke, Purcell became a member of the Chapel Royal as composer-in-ordinary for the violins and in 1679 succeeded John Blow as organist at the abbey. By then Purcell had become one of England's most promising composers. In 1677 he set a beautiful and moving elegy to Matthew Locke ("Gentle Shepherds, ye that know") for which he may also have written the text. By the end of 1680 he finished not only almost all the elegant, deeply expressive fantasias and innomines but many of the trio sonatas and early songs as well. Stylistically all these were related to England's musical traditions but owed much to French and Italian models, as Purcell acknowledged in his trio sonatas published in 1683.
On July 31, 1682 Purcell's uncle Thomas died. The following year, perhaps merely as a formality, Purcell was required to take the sacrament of the Church of England in public, an event which may point to some suspicion that he had Papist sympathies. By then, though, he was firmly established as Charles II's chief composer. Among the best-known works from this period were the incidental music for Nathanial Lee's Theodosius, the Service in B-flat Major, the anthems "Rejoice in the Lord" and "They that go down to the sea in ships, " and the song "Bess of Bedlam. "
Purcell's first compositions for James II, who ascended the throne in 1685, reflect a change in style, as may be seen in such works as the coronation anthem "My heart is inditing" and the ode "Why are all the muses mute?" During the three years of James II's reign Purcell's reputation as a songwriter developed rapidly, and scarcely a collection or stage piece came out in London during this time without his participation. Purcell was commissioned to supply music for the coronation ceremonies of William and Mary, which took place on April 11, 1689. Again a change in his music may be detected, for after the Glorious Revolution he turned to opera, to semiopera (a combined opera, stage play, ballet, and masque), and to more impressive sets of incidental music, showing a mastery of dramatic expression which no English composer ever surpassed.
Purcell began the new trend in 1689 with the opera Dido and Aeneas, which contained the moving lament "When I am laid in earth. " He continued thereafter with at least one major dramatic composition each year. In 1690 he produced the heroic semiopera Dioclesian and in 1691 King Arthur, based on John Dryden's play; both operas relate topically to contemporary events. The Fairy Queen was produced in 1692, the incidental music for William Congreve's The Double Dealer in 1693, and the incidental music for The Married Beau in 1694. Purcell died while composing The Indian Queen in 1695.
During Purcell's last years he also wrote a great many other important works, including the Ode to St. Cecilia of 1692, six birthday odes for Queen Mary, the Te Deum and Jubilate in D Major, and a host of songs and dialogues. In addition, he found time to rewrite and revise portions of John Playford's Introduction to the Skill of Music (1694) and to carry out all his official duties as instrument repairer, organist, performer, and teacher.