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Boyce: Ode for St Cecilia's Day

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 25, 2000
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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. I. Vivace - Adagio - Allegro
  2. II. Gavot: Andante
  3. III. Minuetto Allegro
  4. See Fam'd Apollo And The Nine
  5. Immortal Love, With Tuneful Lyres
  6. Aloft The Strains Melodious Swiftly Fly
  7. When A Tender, Virtous Passion
  8. Hark! The Loud Trumpet Calls A Youth To Arms
  9. The Hero Whom A Fair One Fires
  10. Ah! Say, Could Painting, Could The Weeping Muse
  11. What Cruel Pangs The Lover Feels
  12. Thus, Whilst The Muse Love's Boundless Influence
  13. Sprung From Gods, Immortal Love
  14. Largo - Allegro
  15. Hail Harmony!
  16. Gracious Power, To Thee We Owe
  17. At Music's Sacred Name
  18. With Celestial Glory Crown'd
  19. Mortals, In Hymns Of Tuneful Joy
  20. Music, Gently
  21. Pleas'd The Celestial Visitant Surveys
  22. As Nature With Sun Revives
  23. The Captive, Bound In Rankling Chains
  24. The Melting Them Transports Each Mortal Breast
  25. Music Can The Passions Raise
  26. Now The Aetherial Lyrist Sweeps The Strings
  27. Mortals, Scorn The Boasted Nine
  28. Leave Transient Joys, And Raise The Theme
  29. Thus Will Your Hymns, Like Incense, Rise
  30. Dislay His Goodness, Hial His Might

Product Details

  • Performer: William Boyce, Graham Lea-Cox Conductor, Hanover Band, Patrick Burrowes, William Purefoy; Andrew Watts, et al.
  • Audio CD (April 25, 2000)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Guadeamus / ASV Digital
  • ASIN: B00004RDVK
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #458,265 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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In 1939 William Boyce (1711-1779) composed his 'Ode for St. Cecelia's Day' to a text by his friend, the amateur poet, John Lockman. In writing this ode Boyce followed in the footsteps of his two chief teachers, Maurice Greene and Johann Pepusch who also wrote music in St. Cecelia's honor. However, his music is more reminiscent of Handel which is not surprising, since while the much younger Boyce was becoming prominent in London's lively music scene, Handel was the most celebrated composer of the time anywhere. In fact, the very same year that Boyce wrote the work on this recording, Handel wrote and premiered his own setting of the 'Ode' to a Dryden text.

Interestingly, Boyce was invited the next year to present his 'Ode' in Dublin, at which time he revised his original score that is performed on this disc. Handel, a few years later performed his 'Messiah' triumph in Dublin and made use of the same soloists that Boyce used for his 'Ode'.

The work is divided into two parts with thirty selections in all, and each part begins with an Overture. In all there are four choruses, two duets(Wilson and Purefoy, Wilson and Watts), two tenor solos(Wilson), four bass solos(George), four alto solos(Purefoy), four countertenor solos(Watts) and five soprano solos(Burrowes). The first half of the 'Ode' deals with normal 18th century fare-gods, nymphs, love heroes, the power of love and song; in essence the pastorelle, with its traditional deities. In this part of the 'ode' there is no structure to be found. In the second part the poet invokes the sacred and dismisses the profane. Boyce responds with music of audibly greater intensity, imagination and beauty. When St. Cecelia finally sings, her music is given to a boy's voice.
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I think the other reviewer got this one mixed up with another recording by similar forces--"The Secular Masque". This recording is of a genre that many composers, including notably Handel and Purcell wrote--a celebration of music itself. Purcell's and Handel's compositions are well-known and fairly often recorded. This is the world premiere recording of the Boyce, and it has some of the best "HIP" (historically informed performance) features on records today--original instruments, "authentic" vocal forces, etc.

The soloists are outstanding, as is the choir. If you like Handel or Purcell, or ceremonial music in general, you will be very pleased with this. Boyce's music should be much better known--only his "overtures" are performed or recorded often.

If for some bizarre reason, you don't like countertenors--who seem to be all the rage these days--stay away. If you love them, as so many do, grab this now before it goes out of print. The young boy soprano, Patrick Burrowes, is also very good, and in keeping with the "authentic" style, apparently the original performances featured a boy soloist. Excellent informative notes and texts as well.
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