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<<  -- 2 --  Robert Anderson    MERRY OR SAD

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Like Handel, Boyce wrote two St Cecilia odes. Handel began with Alexander's Feast, the weightier of his pair; Boyce started c1738 with 'The charms of harmony display', the lighter one, to words by Peter Vidal, a product of Westminster and St John's College, Cambridge, who proceeded into the Church.

The touching tale of the Lamentation comes from II Samuel, chapter 1. Boyce is worthy of his subject from the outset [listen -- track 1, 0:03-0:44]. Saul and Jonathan are already dead before the cantata begins, but David hears the manner of their death only in the course of the work. A young Amalekite (erstwhile Palestinian) brings him the news, and Lockman provides a retrospective aria for the tormented and suicidal Saul, powerfully sung by the alto, William Purefoy [listen track 7, 0:25-1:10]. The tenor, Richard Edgar-Wilson, describes David's agony at the tidings [listen -- track 10, 0:00-0:45]. The New College Choir mourns in expressive and dramatic music the woes that have befallen the house of Israel and its leaders, the father and Jonathan the son who had been David's dearest companion [listen -- track 11, 0:00-1:10]. David, however, is stirred to action, and in a fine purposeful aria demands how anyone could dare strike the Lord's anointed even when requested to do so [listen track 13, 0:11-1:17]. The wretched Amalekite is of course doomed, and maybe Boyce shed a tear for him too.

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Copyright © 6 May 2001 Robert Anderson, London, UK

 

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CD INFORMATION - ASV CD GAU 208

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