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John Blow was organist at Westminster Abbey before Henry Purcell, and again after Purcell's untimely death.

Probably most known for his countertenor duet, An Ode on the Death of Mr. Henry Purcell and also for what is generally considered the earliest English opera, Venus and Adonis.

He also composed a considerable number of anthems, which I quite like as they tend to meander along and you never know quite where they are going to go next. His reputation suffered for a couple of hundred years after a trashing in Charles Burney's 1789 book A General History of Music which referred to "great and unwarrantable licentiousness" and "confusion and crudities" in Blow's counterpoint, with "harmonies which look and sound quite barbarous", presumably because they didn't fit the in-vogue notions of lawful harmony at the time.

For anyone interested in his anthems I would recommend Robert Qunney's first disc with New College Choir

 

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As far as I know Timothy Roberts's recording of music by John Blow is the only one with substantial amounts of his instrumental music. Nevertheless Blow is well served on record because, not to mince words, this is a great recording.

The music by Blow, mostly made up of a sequence of voluntaries for organ, though little known, is of very high quality harmonically and contrapuntally. The harmonies are astonishingly bold even for baroque music. The high point is an extraordinary Double Voluntary in D minor, which is tagged No. 27 - suggesting that there's a lot more music by Blow to hear.

The commitment of the performers is evident throughout. I say performers (plural) because twice you hear a congregation singing hymns, accompanied. It works. And there are a couple of pieces for voice and organ, but I was not so interested by them.

The early 16th century organ at St Botolph's in The City is the best in London, tuned in a way which brings out the dissonances wonderfully, and very well restored. This is worth hearing just for the organ.

Timothy Roberts is also on a CD dedicated to Blow, with John Mark Ainsley and Paula Chateauneuf -- he plays a few grounds and a suite on harpsichord or spinet. I have it but I can't remember anything about it, other than a general favourable feeling.

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I have a similar positive memory for this CD with James Bowman and others, but I'd really have to check to be sure

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In addition I have various organ pieces played by Thurston Dart and Kenneth Gilbert, on compilation CDs dedicated to British music -- as I recall, all rather good. And a recording with a lot of Blow organ music by Leonhardt about which I remember nothing.

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His reputation suffered for a couple of hundred years after a trashing in Charles Burney's 1789 book A General History of Music which referred to "great and unwarrantable licentiousness" and "confusion and crudities" in Blow's counterpoint, with "harmonies which look and sound quite barbarous", presumably because they didn't fit the in-vogue notions of lawful harmony at the time.
Burney was certainly severe in his judgment of Blow, but he didn't spare the great Henry Purcell either. Purcell's melody 'wants symmetry and grace'; his harmony 'is not always so pure as it ought to be'; he indulges in the excessive repetition of single words and his string writing is 'equally deficient in force, invention, and effect'. As Richard Luckett has said, when Burney does grudgingly commend Purcell it is almost against his better judgment. It has been suggested that Burney used Blow as a scapegoat to deflect criticism away from Purcell, England's national composer, whose music he disliked but could not bring himself to wholeheartedly condemn although its 'flaws' were not unlike those he blasted in Blow.
 
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