Purcell, Blow and Contemporaries

The Second Episode of Obsessive Choral with Nico Muhly

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Today, Henry Purcell and John Blow! Purcell is, I think, the last composer who was allowed to write such unstructured music; his long verse anthems and Te Deum are abstract, meandering and episodic pieces where each little bit of text is its own little étude. I think all of my problems as a composer — and all my delights — can be traced back to these capricious, difficult and charming pieces.

Alfred Deller's recording of the Te Deum and Jubilate — particularly the "When Thou took'st upon thee" duet and the "Vouchsafe, O Lord" solo — is, for me, one of the most beautiful music ever written and recorded.

Our second show ends with three works by Weelkes: two muscular anthems (Alleluia, I heard a voice and Hosanna to the Son of David) and a plaintive one (When David Heard) that accentuate the composer's emotional complexity. I also like how Weelkes is operating in a time when "Salvation" is a four-syllable word.


Nico Muhly
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