"Welcome to all the pleasures" is the earliest of the three Odes written by Henry Purcell, and the smallest in scale.
An organization called ‘The Musical Society’ commissioned Purcell to set Christopher Fishburn’s libretto for their first celebration of St Cecilia’s Day in 1683. The event proved popular, for Purcell’s setting of the Ode was published the next year, and the Musical Society had to move to larger premises for its next celebration, although they did not call on Purcell again until 1692 when he produced Hail! bright Cecilia.
For the 1683 occasion the youthful Purcell, only twenty-four at the time, produced a work of great freshness, notable amongst many features for its wonderfully original string ritornelli with which he concludes many of the vocal sections. The work also produced one particularly successful alto solo over a ground bass, ‘Here the Deities approve’ (which moves into a most elegant string ritornello) published separately in 1689 under the title ‘A new Ground’ in the second part of Musick’s Hand-Maid.
Fishburn’s text gave the composer an opportunity for gentle word-setting at ‘Beauty, thou scene of love’, and Purcell obliged with a movement given first to a solo tenor (with a delicious, and maybe slightly malicious, discord at the mention of the lute), and then taken up by the string ensemble. Unusually, Purcell employs a quiet ending to the work, with the texture of the last line of music ‘Iô Cecilia’ fading away to leave just the bass instruments and singers to conclude the Ode.
Although originally written for Choir, I adapted this piece to a non-standard Woodwind quartet (Flute, Oboe, Clarinet and English Horn) and it is best played using the "GeneralUser GS.sf2" Soundfont by S. Christian Collins Software (http://www.schristiancollins.com/generaluser.php).