Arts-Scène Diffusion

Jean-Luc Ho


Henry Purcell, Songs, arias and Sacred arias

Organ work


Henry Purcell is one of the best-known English composers, and still one of the most adored today. And rightly so: harmonic discoveries and daring writing that are still fresh to our modern ears, and arias popularised by the cinema and covers by artists who are more often labelled 'variété'.
Purcell, a genius who died far too young at the age of 36, was the father of British-style opera, with his famous Dido and Aeneas at the forefront. Although this opera is unique, part of its score has been irretrievably lost. It was surrounded by a host of sketches that were not quite operatic, as they were still on the borderline of the English "masque", more akin to the interludes of plays or the comédie-ballet found in late seventeenth-century France. Among these 'semi-opera', this programme invites us to plunge into some famous extracts from Œdipus, Dioclesian, Pausanias, Tyrannick Love, Timon of Athens, The Fairy Queen, Dido and Aeneas, of course, as well as other 'songs' preserved in a more isolated fashion in the well-named collections of the Orpheus Britannicus, and also to discover some rarer nuggets straight from his famous Odes to Saint Cecilia (Hail, bright Cecilia! 1692, and Come, Ye sons of Art, 1694). 

At times intimate, lamenting, bantering or grandiloquent in voice, these judiciously chosen and set pages deploy all the timbres, stops and volubilities of the organs, which have become orchestral under the fingers of Jean-Luc Ho: the thundering New Irish Tune with its unheard-of hornpipe playing and inevitably Irish accents, the mysterious colours of the Curtain tune (which literally means a change of scene, a "curtain tune"...), the almost symphonic agitations, not forgetting the delicacy or truculence of the lute playing... 

When the instrument and the two lively performers take on the role of stage director and set designer, the full range of the British Oprhée's dramatic genius is reconstituted in a journey through love, from the sweet emotions to the joys of marriage, passing through doubt, fear, spite, betrayal, abandonment, tragic death, consolation, and finally lightness, more detached from the quarrels of the world, bordering on sensuality and even sauciness...


Lucile Richardot mezzo-soprano


Opening (Dido & Aeneas, 1689) 
Lamentation de Didon, « Ah, Belinda, I am press'd »*

Strike the viol (Ode Come, ye Sons of Art, 1694)*
Ground in D 
If music be the food of love* (Gentleman’s Journal, 1° version, 1692)
Verse in F
Music for a while* (Orpheus Britannicus, vol. II, pour la tragédie Oedipus, 1692 ?)

Volontary for double organ
A new irish Tune
Sweeter than roses* (Orpheus Britannicus, vol. I, pour la tragédie Pausanias, 1695)
Volontary in G
Since from my dear Astrea’s sight* (semi-opéra Dioclesian, 1690)
Mort de Didon, « Thy hand, Belinda… When I am laid »*

Volontary in C
The airy violin (Ode on St Cecilia's day, 1692)*
Sarabande with divisions] in A
In vain the am'rous flute (Ode on St Cecilia's day)*
Volontary on the Old 100th

Ah! how sweet it is to love* (Orpheus Britannicus, vol. I, musique de scène pour Tyrannick Love ; or, the Royal Martyr, 1698)
Secresy's Song « One charming night » (The Fairy Queen, 1692)*
Chacone in G
An Epithalamium « Thrice happy lovers » (Wedding song, from The Fairy Queen)*


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