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David's Lamentation over Saul and Jonathan. Ode for St Cecilia's Day The Charms of Harmony Display.- first version.
Patrick Burrowes (boy soprano), William Purefoy (alto), Andrew Watts (counter-tenor), Richard Edgar-Wilson (tenor), Michael George (bass-baritone), Choir of New College Oxford, The Hanover Band/Graham Lea-Cox.
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This is the third in Graham Lea-Cox's excellent series of hitherto neglected Boyce choral works. Boyce's oratorio David's Lamentation is recorded in its Dublin version of 1744, having been premiered in London in 1736. As a taste of the (not too radical) revisions for Dublin, an appendix to the CD furnishes the London version of two arias, which show slight changes in instrumentation and, in one case, a change of singer, from London's tenor to Dublin's counter-tenor. The invention is impressive, while showing, as one would expect (though Mr. Lea-Cox's booklet note professes to find pre-echoes of Gluck) the influence, then in his pomp as an oratorio composer, but not slavishly so. The arias are memorable, as are the choruses, four of them, which underpin the tragedy much as Handel's oratorio choruses do. The performance, by the New College Choir, Messrs. Purefoy, Watts and Edgar-Wilson and the Hanover Band, are again admirably stylish and committed.

For the St. Cecilia's day ode (words by the Rev. Vidal and dating maybe from 1737, at the time when Handel made his own contribution to the St. Cecilia literature) only Purefoy is retained of the Lamentations soloists but he is joined by the boy soprano Patrick Burrowes and strongly resonant bass-baritone Michael George for the ingratiating trio "Where Peace Prevails", which for me pre-echoes the duet "O Lovely Peace" from Handel's Judas Maccabeus and is a prelude to a rousing martial air from Mr. George, with trumpets resplendent in its middle section.

Another fine release, which enhances Boyce's reputation far above the modest level insisted on by one-time academic historians who had their own agenda and who should have known better. Thank heavens for people like Graham Lea-Cox (and many others in present age) for their more conscientious scholarship and less blinkered outlook.

Philip Scowroft

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