Welcome, vicegerent of the mighty king is a Welcome Song for Charles II, composed in 1680 when Purcell was only 21. Written on the occasion of the Court’s return to London after summering in Windsor, it was the first of a new series of Welcome Odes. The playing of Tragicomedia in this song is slightly too mechanical for my liking, although the soloists are excellent, with singing that is vibrant and energetic, and a good sense of joy all round. It is followed by the duet O dive custos Auriacae domus, composed shortly before Purcell’s own death, and here sung most beautifully by Suzie Le Blanc and Barbara Borden. Both O dive custos Auriacae domus and Incassum, Lesbia, rogas (later on), are private elegies for the death of a beloved monarch, rather than public music. In the intensity of these works we gain an impression of the composer’s genuine personal grief, which is brought out further by these convincing performances.
Raise, raise the voice was written for the Musical Society’s celebrations of St Cecilia's Day, and the following O let me ever, ever weep was composed as an additional elegy to be added to the Fairy Queen at a revival of the semi-opera several months after the premiere. Suzie Le Blanc’s crystal-clear soprano, with its minimal vibrato, is perfectly suited to this work, and she here gives it a superb performance.
Young Thirsis’ fate, ye hills and groves, deplore mourns the death of the royal violinist and composer Thomas Farmer, and is also well-performed. The disc concludes with Why, why are all the Muses mute?, a Welcome Song for James II. It is hauntingly performed by the soloists, and makes a wonderful conclusion to the disc. On the whole - a good, contrasting selection of Welcome Songs, Odes and Elegies, given some fine performances.