O Solitude Z.406

Composer: Henry Purcell (b. 1659 - d. 1695)
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Composer: Henry Purcell (b. 1659 - d. 1695)

Performance date: 01/07/2014

Venue: St. Brendan’s Church

Composition Year: 1684/5

Duration: 00:04:14

Recording Engineer: Richard McCullough, RTE

Instrumentation Category:Small Mixed Ensemble

Instrumentation Other: S-solo, 2vn, va, vc, db, lu/gui

Artists: Maria Keohane - [soprano]
Concerto Copenhagen (Peter Spissky, Fredrik From, Antina Hugosson [violins], Torbjörn Köhl [viola], Kate Hearne [cello], Mattias Frostenson [bass], Fredrik Bock [archlute, guitar], Lars-Ulrik Mortensen [harpsichord, director]) - [baroque ensemble]

The original text of
O Solitude was by the French poet
Antoine de Saint-Amant. It was skillfully translated by the poet Katherine
Philips, who was particularly famous for her translation of Corneille’s Pompée into rhyming verse. It was the
first rhymed translation of a French tragedy and was produced in Dublin at the
Smock Alley Theatre, the first stage production ever of a play in English
written by a woman. She died of smallpox when only 32. Purcell’s setting is
based on twenty-eight repetitions of a ground bass. Over this hypnotic bass
Purcell illustrates the imaginative text with a ravishing melody, hiding the
regularity of the bass with overlapping vocal phrases and wonderful harmonic
variety.  There is much vivid word
painting – the phrase O Solitude recurs
throughout the song to a selection of
desolately falling intervals whereas today
as fresh and green
optimistically rises through the scale.