A Purcell Sampler, or a Greatest Hits disk, if you prefer.
Craig Matteson | Ann Arbor, MI | 02/04/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a compilation disk of Greatest Hits, as it were, of Henry Purcell recorded by various artists from 1953 (the Alfred Deller track) through the 1970s through 1994. The point of the disk was part of the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the much to early death of this great composer and one of the great geniuses of music that England or Britain has ever produced. I have always been a devotee of his music and absolutely adore the way he set English. It is absolutely unique to him and so full of wonderful effects that create a greater whole than the music or words alone.
1995 was a year when we got to revel in everything Purcell. I was able to see a very delightful staging of "The Indian Queene" in London at the Barbican. It had narration, dancing, the singing, and wonderful playing. At the other portion of the concert, I enjoyed a performance of "Come, Ye Sons of Art" and other works by Hogwood et al. I was hoping to hear Kirkby, and she was billed. However, she was ill. Catherine Bott did a fine job as did John Bowman (both on this disk). Another counter-tenor I was so impressed with was Robin Blaze. I haven't heard much of him since, but he was terrific that night.
There are selections from his works for stage such as "King Arthur", "The Fairy Queen", Did and Aneas, and more. The disk also provides a selection of instrumental works, some sacred selections, and all the works are a delight. The track of "Come, Ye Sons of Art" is from 1953 and recorded by Alfred Deller. If you love the movement of historically informed performance, you do owe some debt to Deller. He was an early reviver of the counter-tenor voice and trying to create a style of performance that might be more appropriate and true to the music of earlier times. He helped bring about new interest in madricals, and other early music forms.
That Emma Kirkby sings on the disk is, of course, a delight for me. I have been captivated by her singing since I first heard her live in December 1980. We also get to delight in the singing of soprano Catherine Bott and counter-tenor John Bowman. All are led by the great Christopher Hogwood (except for the Deller track, obviously)."
A stellar overview
Curmudgeon | West Australia | 01/04/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Yes, it's a Greatest Hits Of Henry Purcell, but there's absolutely nothing wrong with that! A stellar selection of (partial) works by superb musicians on a packed single disc, it's a one-stop introduction to a very great composer. It's worth mentioning the remastered sound, too, because it adds to the music's vibrancy."