Jeremiah Clarke (c.1674-1707)

Jeremiah Clarke, like his older German contemporary Johann Pachelbel, seems condemned still to be known to the general public for a single tune, and even among Baroque specialists little of his other music has been revived. Some of Clarke’s trumpet music has been performed by Crispian Steele-Perkins and others, and his attractive ode on Purcell’s death has been recorded by the Parley of Instruments. As regards his forty or so solo songs, only one of those included in the Green Man Press edition "Fifteen songs" has previously appeared in a modern edition, and a handful of others have been made available to present-day singers.  Even within the genre of immediately appealing melodies, Clarke is certainly not a mere one-tune composer, for he had a knack for the catchy number. As Watkins Shaw remarked in relation to one of Clarke’s church pieces, his music can display “a quality which, if one compares it with Blow and Purcell, might almost be called galant”.


Cla 1

Fifteen Songs

for high voice (c'-a'') and continuo

Edited and reconstructed by Timothy Roberts

Price: £ 10

1. So sweet the charms of love

2. Young Corydon and Phyllis

3. Long has Pastora rul’d the plain

4. The Country Farmer

5. Come, sweet lass

6. Jockey was dowdy lad

7. Farewell, ungrateful nymph, farewell

8. Oh! I feel the mighty dart

9. In faith, 'tis true I am in love

10. A Divine Hymn

11. I'm wounded by Amanda's eyes

12. Serene and gentle was the air

13. Ah! Charmion, shroud those killing eyes

14. While the lover is thinking

15. Each tender virgin's fears will fly

 

Even within the genre of immediately appealing melodies, Clarke is certainly not a mere one-tune composer, for he had a knack for the catchy number. As Watkins Shaw remarked in relation to one of Clarke’s church pieces, his music can display “a quality which, if one compares it with Blow and Purcell, might almost be called galant[1] This characteristic is often evident in his secular music too — for example, among the so-called “Scotch songs” ­(see  No. 5 “Come, sweet lass” and No. 9 “In faith, ‘tis true”) whose fashionable leaping intervals and paired quaver note-setting indeed anticipate the true style galante of the later 18th century.

At the same time Clarke was also at home in more elaborate music, and darker, more pained songs such as No. 8 “Oh! I feel the mighty dart”, No. 11 “I’m wounded by Amanda’s eyes” and No. 3 “Long has Pastora rul’d the plain”, express a melancholy side that was recalled later by Philip Hayes:[2] the melancholy that it seems contributed to the composer’s youthful suicide which, according to contemporary broadsheets,[3] was the result of rejection in love.



[1] Article on Clarke in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians

[2] British Library, Add. MS 33235

[3] For example, A Sad and Dismal Account of the Sudden and Untimely Death of Mr. Jeremiah Clarke (British Library)

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