Duets for basses by George Jeffreys and Henry Purcell
for two basses (E-d');(G-e') and continuo
The text of With notes that are both loud and sweet may be by Jeffreys himself, and is full of vivid imagery. The style is of the piece is declamatory, but has many passages of effective word setting. Both voices suggest the angels descending by swooping down to bottom E, and there is a telling chromatic phrase on the word “Cry”. The piece displays Jeffreys’ interest in the Italian style, and is characterised by the irregular phrase lengths that are typical of him. It is clearly not intended for church use, and was probably “for private chapels or other private meetings” as were Child’s 1639 Italianate psalm settings. Purcell’s anthem Awake ye Dead was published by Henry Playford in the second volume of Harmonia Sacra, 1693. This was to be a collection of ‘DIVINE HYMNS/AND/ DIALOGUES:/ WITH/A THOROW-BASS for the Theorbo-Lute,/ Bass-Viol, Harpsichord, or Organ./ Composed by the Best MASTERS of the Last and Present Age.’ His second edition of 1703 claimed “four Excellent Anthems of the late Mr H. Purcell’s never before Printed”. The virtuosic nature of this piece is a reminder that some notable bass voices were available to Purcell – possibly John Gostling and John Bowman, who both served in the king’s Private Music . This piece contains much conspicuous word painting, as for example the florid descending passages for “the clatt’ring Orbs come down”. The words are by Nahum Tate, who was poet laureate from 1692, and who provided the libretto for Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas.