The music of John Blow (1649-1708) is less often performed than that of his illustrious student Henry Purcell, but this release by the consistently strong English early music ensemble Arcangelo suggests that all it needed were strong, loving performances. An ode is a secular lyric poem, often set musically, on a subject serving as an inspiration to the poet (or musician). The Ode on the Death of Mr. Henry Purcell is here, and gets top billing in the graphics; the three other odes are equally good, not common, and well worth your time to get to know. Blow excels at text-painting that's evocative but never garish, and you could sample the sunrise imagery at the beginning of Dread Sir, the Prince of Light, with its vocal trio elegantly rendered by the two main soloists on the album, plus one of Arcangelo's choristers. The high level of accomplishment is consistent throughout, with the intermezzo instrumental sonatas offering a mix of fetching melody and vigorous continuo grouping, strong soloists, and a precise but never less than enthusiastic tone cultivated by Cohen. The result is a good entry to fill a space that exists on many an English Baroque shelf.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Begin the Song!|
|An Ode on the Death of Mr Henry Purcell|
|The Nymphs of the wells|
|Sonata in A major|
|Dread Sir, the Prince of Light|