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O Solitude Z.406

Henry Purcell (b. 1659 - d. 1695)

Maria Keohane (photo credit: Göran Persson)

Maria Keohane (photo credit: Göran Persson)

Composer
Henry Purcell (b. 1659 - d. 1695)
Composition Year
1684/5
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])

Programme Note Writer:
© Francis Humphrys

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.

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O Solitude Z.406

Composer: Henry Purcell (b. 1659 - d. 1695)
Performance date: Tuesday 1st July 2014
Venue: St. Brendan's Church, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland

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Composer Henry Purcell (b. 1659 - d. 1695)
Work Title O Solitude Z.406
Composition Year 1684/5
Artist(s) 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])
Performance Date Tuesday 1st July 2014
Performance Venue St. Brendan's Church, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland
Event Coffee Concert
Duration 00:04:14
Recording Engineer Richard McCullough, RTE
Instrumentation Category Small Mixed Ensemble
Instrumentation S-solo, 2vn, va, vc, db, lu/gui
Programme Note Writer © Francis Humphrys

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.