《When I am laid in Earth from Dido and Aeneas》

Henry Purcell (1659-1695)

Thomas Dodd, Vc (1800)
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Purcell was born into a musical family, and was an important composer during the Baroque period. This song is from the three-act opera Dido and Aeneas. The first half of the song is a prelude, while the second half is the famous aria. The entire aria is Dido telling her servant Belinda that she will soon die. The music is fundamentally British. The melody is much freer and more flexible than those found in French and Italian music.The prelude is closely followed by the aria. The tragic gorgeous melody is based on a repetitious bass figure, descending chromatically layer by layer; it is a prototypical song of tragedy. Moreover, the rhythm is highly irregular. One cycle is five measures long. There are also dissonant harmonies on the downbeat, making it even more obvious that they represent the overall gloomy, sorrowful mood of the piece. A cello made by British luthier Thomas Dodd in 1800 is used to play Dido’s melody in this recording. The warm undulations of the melody coincide with the last line, “Remember me,” which leads into the climax of the song. The register of the cello, resembling that of the human voice, sounds remarkably like a noble queen who has fallen out of favor, muttering her tragic fate.