- Lord, what is man?, sacred song for soprano & continuo, Z. 192
- O solitude, my sweetest choice, song, Z. 406
- In the black, dismal dungeon of despair, sacred song for soprano & continuo, Z. 190
- Lord, I can suffer Thy rebukes, sacred song for 2 sopranos, alto, bass, chorus & continuo, Z. 136
- Voluntary for organ in G major, Z. 720
- In guilty night, sacred song, Z. 134
- Voluntary (verse) for organ in C major, Z. 717
- Plung'd in the confines of despair, sacred song for tenor, bass, male chorus & continuo, Z. 142
- Awake, ye dead, sacred song, for 2 basses & continuo, Z. 182
- The Earth trembled, and heav'n closed, sacred song for bass (or soprano) & continuo, Z. 197
- My op'ning eyes are purg'd, song, ZD72 (spurious)
- With sick and famish'd eyes, sacred song for soprano & continuo, Z. 200
- Ground for harpsichord in C Minor, D 221
- O, I'm sick of life, sacred song for alto, tenor, chorus & continuo, Z. 140
- Close thine eyes and sleep secure, sacred song for soprano, bass & continuo, Z. 184
- Funeral Sentences (for the funeral of Queen Mary), Z. 27: Man that is born of a woman Z 27; In the midst Z 1
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The voracious scouring of defunct catalogs by Dutch discounter Brilliant occasionally yields gems, and this is one. Originally recorded in 1994 and released on Deutsche Grammophon, the album collects sacred vocal pieces that qualify as rarities by Henry Purcell, who was mostly known for secular music. Apparently even in Purcell's own time they were intended for small circles of connoisseurs, and many remained in manuscript until recent times. Both in musical style and in literary content they are a bit old-fashioned, combining that quality with a daring mode of expression. The texts are by poets from earlier in the 17th century, several of them from the so-called Metaphysical school; they include such conceits as "In the black, dismal dungeon of despair, Z190" (track 3), "Plung'd in the confines of despair, Z142" (track 8), and "O, I'm sick of life, Z140," none of which is as downbeat as the titles would lead you to believe; the focus is on the poetic virtuosity rather than the sentiment. Purcell matches this with free vocal lines that hark back to the Italian sacred concertos of the mid-century; his settings match the poetry in subtle ways that reveal new things on multiple hearings. They are for one to four voices plus continuo, and the Gabrieli Consort and Players under Paul McCreesh act as a single unit with extreme sensitivity to the text. The program is effectively broken up by a few ingenious keyboard pieces. An excellent find for Purcell lovers. Booklet notes are in English only.