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Purcell, Henry: Complete Catches


Edited by Michael Nyman

Purcell began writing catches around 1680 and continued to do so, as convivial occasion demanded, throughout his career. They were reprinted with equal regularity during the eighteenth century and rendered themselves harmless by respectable Victorians like Rimbault. (This bowdlerization was a habit which the editor of the Purcell Society edition found impossible to kick even as late as the 1920s.)

The present edition restores all the verses Purcell set; corrects the many musical errors which crept in through frequent reprinting and reliance on bad sources. Since the catch was the means of self-expression for the liberated middle class drinking man, it is not surprising that it revolved around three subjects: sex, drink and politics. Women are to be seduced or if you’re married to them, cursed; when they are unwilling they are cast aside in favour of drink, whose communal consciousness-expanding and laziness-inducing properties are most frequently praised. The politics are mainly jingoistic but in one case – Who goes there? – it deals with the corruption of drunken officials.

It seems unlikely that Purcell’s catches were ever sung successfully while under the influence; the melodic lines are too involved and their combination needs to be very carefully balanced and pointed so that the story line is made clear.

Michael Nyman

Ref: D86 ISMN: 9790220212659 Categories: , , By:

A health to the nut-brown lass
An ape, a lion, a fox and an ass
As Roger last night
At the close of the evening
Bring the bowl and cool Nantz
Call for the reck’ning
Come let us drink
Come to my hearts
Down with Bacchus
Drink on
Full bags
God save our sovreign Charles
Great Apollo and Bacchus
He that drinks is immortal
Here’s a health, pray let it pass about
Here’s that will challenge
I gave her cakes
If all be true that I do think
Is Charleroy’s siege come to?
Jack thou’rt a toper
Let the grave folks go preach
Let us drink to the blades
My lady’s coachman John
My wife has a tongue
Now England’s great council
Now we are met
Of all the instruments
Once in our lives
Once, twice, thrice, I Julia tried
One industrious insect
Pale faces, stand by
Pox on you for a fop
Prithee ben’t so sad and serious
Room for th’express
Since the Duke is returned
Since time so kind to us does prove
Since women so false
Sir Walter enjoying his damsel
Soldier take off thy wine
Sum up all the delights
The Macedon youth
The Miller’s Daughter
‘Tis easy to force
‘Tis too late for the coach
‘Tis women makes us love
To all lovers of music
To thee and to a maid
Tom making a manteau
True Englishmen drink
Under a green elm
Under this stone
When V and I together meet
Who comes there?
Wine in a morning
Would you know how we meet
Young Colin cleaving of a beam
Young John the gardener

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