"Welcome to all the pleasures" is the earliest of the
three Odes written by Henry Purcell, and the smallest
An organization called ?The Musical Society?
commissioned Purcell to set Christopher Fishburn?s
libretto for their first celebration of St Cecilia?s
Day in 1683. The event proved popular, for Purcell?s
setting of the Ode was published the next year, and the
Musical Society had to move to larger premises for its
next celebration, although they did not call on Purcell
again until 1692 when he produced Hail! bright Cecilia.
For the 1683 occasion the youthful Purcell, only
twenty-four at the time, produced a work of great
freshness, notable amongst many features for its
wonderfully original string ritornelli with which he
concludes many of the vocal sections. The work also
produced one particularly successful alto solo over a
ground bass, ?Here the Deities approve? (which moves
into a most elegant string ritornello) published
separately in 1689 under the title ?A new Ground? in
the second part of Musick?s Hand-Maid.
Fishburn?s text gave the composer an opportunity for
gentle word-setting at ?Beauty, thou scene of love?,
and Purcell obliged with a movement given first to a
solo tenor (with a delicious, and maybe slightly
malicious, discord at the mention of the lute), and
then taken up by the string ensemble. Unusually,
Purcell employs a quiet ending to the work, with the
texture of the last line of music ?Iô Cecilia? fading
away to leave just the bass instruments and singers to
conclude the Ode.
Although originally written for Choir, I adapted this
piece to a non-standard Woodwind quartet (Flute, Oboe,
Clarinet and English Horn).