DESKTOP
TABLET (max. 1024px)
MOBILE (max. 640px)
Return to Top
Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

LEBRECHT LISTENS | Before There Was Purcell, There Was John Blow

By Norman Lebrecht on December 1, 2017

Blow: An Ode On The Death Of Mr Henry Purcell

John Blow: An ode on the death of Mr Henry Purcell (Hyperion)

★★★★ (out of five)

For a brief window in the 1690s — until the night Mrs Purcell shut her husband out in the cold — London was the go-to place for young composers in search of top tuition and an appreciative audience. Italians like Arcangelo Corelli were keen to study with Henry Purcell and English composers grew in confidence. Then, one November night in 1695, Mrs P decided not to stay up till her old man got back from the theatre and poor Henry caught cold and died, or so the story goes. Two centuries would elapse before England bred another composer of his quality.

John Blow (1649-1708) was Purcell’s early teacher and an established composer in his own right. His musical response to the tragedy was partly competitive — others were also producing Purcell laments — but also discernably personal. In the spirit of the times, Blow does not indulge in an excess of grief. His arias, written for two countertenors, are free of the stuffiness of church odes.

Blow uses the metaphor of birdsong to evoke Purcell’s soul rising to heaven. In The Power of Harmony, he cheekily quotes a phrase of “Dido’s Lament” to remind the world of what it lost. Samuel Boden and Thomas Walker contrive just the right shade of lightness to carry this off.

Other works on the album toddle along in Purcell’s shadow — song for St Cecilia’s Day and a Chaconne in G minor being written very much a la mode. Jonathan Cohen conducts the Arcangelo ensemble and the sound is crystal clear.

Blow: An Ode On The Death Of Mr Henry Purcell is available at Amazon.ca and iTunes.

[Correction: Dec. 2, 2017. A previous version incorrectly stated Purcell’s dates as the 1890s rather than the 1690s.]

#LUDWIGVAN

Want more updates on Toronto-centric classical music news and reviews before anyone else finds out? Follow us on Facebook or Twitter for all the latest.

 

Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300
comments powered by Disqus

Ludwig Van Toronto

LEBRECHT LISTENS | Where Has Hindemith Gone?

By Norman Lebrecht on April 9, 2021

It’s a bit of a mystery why Hindemith has vanished so completely, with chamber music so extremely well-made, intelligent, and civilized.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300

THE SCOOP | Apple Music Takes On Spotify With Penny Per Stream Claim

By Michael Vincent on April 20, 2021

How many musicians does it take to screw in a light bulb? Two. One to screw in the light bulb, and another to say, “He’s already being screwed by Spotify.”
Read the full story Comments
Share this article

LEBRECHT LISTENS | We Expect Oracles From Composers In Ominous Times

By Norman Lebrecht on April 23, 2021

We expect oracles from composers in ominous times, but it is the interpreters Benjamin Baker and Daniel Lebhardt, who bring out the terrors and anxieties that rumble beneath these works.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_low_590x300
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700

We have detected that you are using an adblocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we earn by the advertisements is used to manage this website. Please whitelist our website in your adblocking plugin.