William Boyce: Pindar's Ode / New Year Ode 1774


Information and Reviews

Graham Lea-Cox, Conductor

The Hanover Band  

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On this CD:

  1. Pindar's Ode (Dublin Version, 1741)
    Composed by William Boyce
    Conducted by Graham Lea-Cox

  2. Ode for the New Year, 1774
    Composed by William Boyce
    Conducted by Graham Lea-Cox

Editorial Reviews

From International Record Review - subscribe now

William Boyce (1711-79) occupies a fascinating space in music history just at the point where the heady late Baroque realized its days were numbered and the lighter, breezier manner of the nascent Classical style seized its chance. But Boyce's music is anything but uncertain or transitional. The self-confidence of the age finds its perfect expression in his cosmopolitan high-Baroque style, superficially Handelian, if less ostentatiously grand. Melodically, Boyce embraced the airiness of the new galant style, imbuing it with something quintessentially British in his square-toed dances, quirky cadential figures and pithy, memorable turns of phrase. His orchestral music has been well known for some time, but thanks to Hyperion's pioneering English Orpheus series and the recent attentions of Graham Lea-Cox and the Choir of New College, Oxford, Boyce's impressive achievement as a composer of large-scale choral works is just coming into focus. This is the fourth and sadly the last of Cox's survey of Boyce's odes, oratorios and masques for ASV Gaudeamus. The series has been a triumph: the British Baroque has never sounded so good. The main offering here is the early Pindar's Ode, written in 1740 for one of London's first musical 'clubs', the Apollo Academy, for which Boyce also composed the Ode for St Cecilia's Day and the oratorio, David's Lamentation (reviewed, respectively, in the May 2000 and March 2001 issues). Pindar's Ode polishes up very nicely; it is given here in the revised version of 1741 prepared for a performance by the Dublin Philharmonic Society and the same extraordinary soloists for whom Handel wrote Messiah. There are some marvellously expressive arias, including 'Pious Mariners', richly served up by Michael George, and a fine 'rage' aria ('Angry flames') which Charles Daniels rattles through with great gusto. Treble Patrick Burrowes is less secure, though, than on earlier volumes in the series. From his twilight years we also get Boyce's Ode for the New Year (1774), the 34th such piece he wrote for George II and George III during his long tenure as Master of the King's Musick. Ephemeral it may have been (destined for just a single rehearsal and performance), but Boyce didn't skimp. Just like Purcell in his court odes, Boyce transcends the limitations of the text, and in the final aria, 'Myriads they see', creates something of lasting value (nicely sung by Andrew Johnson). Enthusiastically performed; enthusiastically recommended.   Simon Heighes


“….Our deepest gratitude must however go to the conductor Graham Lea-Cox for his faith in, and his advocacy for, this fine music. The recording is excellent; and the booklet prints the words of both Odes. Highly recommended.”     

Philip L Scowcroft; Reviewed on MusicWeb-International;