A song from Henry Purcell, “If music be the food of love”, sung by tenor Thomas Cooley. High Definition video from the Purcell Project, performed by the San Francisco Early Music Ensemble Voices of Music. Featuring Elisabeth Reed, viola da gamba; Hanneke van Proosdij, harpsichord, and David Tayler, archlute.
The famous opening lines of Shakespeare’s play “Twelfth Night” were transformed into a two verse lyrical poem by Colonel Henry Heveningham and set to music by Henry Purcell in the 1690s. We have added a counter-melody for the violin based on exemplars by Purcell and Blow in their publications “Amphion Anglicus” and “Orpheus Britannicus.” Purcell’s song begins with a long, sweeping gesture in stepwise melodic motion in which each syllable of the poem is given two notes in paired articulation. The music then alternates this melismatic style with declamatory passages set over held chords. The first verse concludes with the music from the opening phrase set to the text, “For you are music everywhere.”