Elegy – Countertenor duets by Purcell & Blow

Elegy – Countertenor duets by Purcell & Blow


Carolyn Sampson soprano
The King’s Consort
Robert King

“Enthusiastically recommended to Sampson’s many admirers and Handel lovers alike”

“This entrancing disc – Robert King’s consort is a British treasure”
(Otago Daily Times)



World-renowned countertenor Iestyn Davies, partnered by outstanding young countertenor James Hall and The King’s Consort, turns his attention to the music of Henry Purcell and his colleague John Blow.


This beautifully themed programme of solos and duets centres on elegies, and concludes with Blow’s magnificent ‘Ode on the death of Purcell’. Rarely heard together on one recording are a set of three substantial elegies composed by Purcell and Blow to commemorate the untimely death of the much-loved Queen Mary. Two of these ingeniously take the same text, one in English (by Blow – a particularly fine work), the other in Latin (Purcell). Another highlight is Iestyn’s seraphic rendition of the melancholy masterpiece, ‘O solitude’. Around these come duets both famous and less familiar, including ‘Hark how the songsters’, Blow’s ravishing ‘Ah, heav’n, what is’t I hear?’, the deliciously languid ‘In vain the am’rous flute’ and, of course, ‘Sound the trumpet’.


The death of Queen Mary, which spurred London’s two leading composers into doleful elegiac action, was soon to be followed by a greater musical calamity: the loss of Henry Purcell. John Blow’s outstanding ‘Ode on the death of Mr Henry Purcell’ is not only a heartfelt tribute to his colleague, but one of the most outstanding English works of the era.


Iestyn Davies shows himself to be a true master of this repertoire, beautifully partnered by James Hall and by an ensemble which has dominated the world of Purcell recordings for more than thirty years.


The recording was made in the world-class recording hall, Alpheton New Maltings, demonstrating its exceptional acoustic of striking clarity and warmth. Extensive presentation includes 52 page booklet with liner note in three languages, full texts and translations, as well as 6 pages of session photos.

Track Composer Title Duration Play
1 Purcell Hark how the songsters 3’00  
2 Purcell In vain the am’rous flute  6’20  
3 Purcell O solitude, my sweetest choice 5’40  
4 Purcell Chaconne from Dioclesian 2’44  
5 Blow Ah heav’n, what is’t I hear?  3’31  
6 Purcell Sound the trumpet  2’23  
7 Purcell Since the toils and the hazards of war  4’09  
8 Purcell Sing, sing, ye druids 2’36  
9 Blow Paratum cor meum 2’22  
10 Purcell The Queen’s Epicedium: Incassum Lesbia 7’37  
11 Blow The Queen’s Epicedium: No, Lesbia, you ask in vain 7’07  
12 Purcell O dive custos Auriciae domus 6’26  
13 Blow Ode: Mark how the lark and linnet sing 3’52  
14 Blow Ode: But in the close of night 4’57  
15 Blow Ode: So ceas’d the rival crew when Purcell came 2’55  
16 Blow Ode: We beg not hell, our Orpheus to restore 1’51  
17 Blow Ode: The pow’r of harmony too well they knew 2’35  
18 Blow Ode: The heav’nly quire, who heard his notes 4’28  
19 Blow Ode: Ye brethren of the lyre 2’49  
    Total  77’22  
Download CD booklet (PDF)

2020 Gramophone Awards finalist

“Davies and Hall bring a chamber-music intensity to Blow’s sublime elegy on Purcell’s death
(The Observer)

“They duet ravishingly”
(The Sunday Times)

“What music, what musicianship, what performances! This Vivat disc leaves one spellbound and enthralled”
(Classical Music Daily)

“Sheer delight”
(Planet Hugill)

“This whole disc is a trove of bittersweet delights”
Editor’s Choice

“Incredibly ecstatic, mellifluous sounds”
(Record Review, BBC Radio 3)

Elegy – Countertenor duets by Purcell & Blow

Iestyn Davies countertenor
James Hall countertenor
The King’s Consort
Robert King

Purcell: Hark how the Songsters
Purcell: In vain the am’rous flute
Purcell: O solitude, my sweetest choice
Purcell: Chaconne from Dioclesian
Blow: Ah heav’n, what is’t I hear?
Purcell: Sound the trumpet
Purcell: Since the toils and the hazards of war
Purcell: Sing, sing, ye druids
Blow: Paratum cor meum
Purcell: The Queen’s Epicedium: Incassum Lesbia
Blow: The Queen’s Epicedium: No, Lesbia, you ask in vain
Purcell: O dive custos Auriciae domus
Blow: An Ode on the Death of Mr Henry Purcell