Friday, March 11, 2011

Purcell - Hear my prayer, O Lord - Choir of Clare College Cambridge

Text taken from Psalm 102, Verse 1 (the Coverdale Psalter), and composed around 1681:
Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my crying come unto thee.

From a UC Riverside Purcell concert bulletin:
Purcell's full anthem, Hear My Prayer, O Lord, was most likely composed for the Chapel Royal and set for SSAATTBB and continuo. The work is one of nearly 70 anthems and services that Purcell composed from 1679 until his early death in 1695. Hear My Prayer, O Lord is the opening fragment of a never completed work. The thirty-four-measure fragment survives in a single MS (manuscript) in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England. The fragment is in the composer's own hand and contains supplementary ruled pages in preparation for additional music. Purcell sets but two lines of the Psalm text:

Hear my prayer, O Lord And let my crying come unto Thee.

However, Purcell's complex harmonic language exquisitely expresses the anguish of the text. Each line of text is given its own musical content, subject and counter subject, that permeates the anthem's polyphony and creates extraordinary dissonances that makes this one of the most admired Anglican anthems.

I must say I really, really do like Purcell.

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