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Purcell: Harmonia Sacra / McCreesh, Gabrieli Consort and Players
Henry Purcell, Johann Heinrich Schmelzer, Paul McCreesh
Purcell: Harmonia Sacra / McCreesh, Gabrieli Consort and Players
Genres: Special Interest, Pop, Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (16) - Disc #1

This is one of the finest Purcell discs around, but it isn't one of the most cheerful. It's an anthology of pieces for one to four voices with continuo on spiritual themes--pieces such as "With sick and famish'd eyes," "Th...  more »

     
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Amazon.com essential recording
This is one of the finest Purcell discs around, but it isn't one of the most cheerful. It's an anthology of pieces for one to four voices with continuo on spiritual themes--pieces such as "With sick and famish'd eyes," "The earth trembled," "In the black, dismal dungeon of despair," and the famous "O solitude." It really is top-notch Purcell, with much better texts than he usually had to work with, and it's performed to Paul McCreesh's usual high standard, but Baroque-for-Brunch it is not. The highlights are the deeply comforting meditation "Close thine eyes and sleep secure," and the riveting "In guilty night," effectively an eight-minute chamber opera enacting Saul's visit to the Witch of Endor, with a sensational performance by Charles Daniels as Saul. --Matthew Westphal
 

CD Reviews

Delightful torment
scott | Calgary, Canada | 07/18/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This recital features a selection of songs on sacred or moral texts which are by-and-large solemn and penitent. The mood ranges from vigorous and expectant (in Awake ye dead) to downright miserable and tormented (Plung'd in the confines of despair). There is a lot of quasi-recitative in these songs, and the text is very vividly expressed in the word-painting. Strong talent and technique are required to bring these off successfully, and fortunately we have such an ensemble doing that here.

All of the singers are extremely gifted musicians, but I will have to single out Charles Daniels who, aside from being one of the best early music tenors ever, is one of the best Purcellian singers as well. Here is a full list just so you know about whom I heap my praise:
Sopranos: Tessa Bonner, Susan Hemington Jones.
Tenors: Charles Daniels, Simon Berridge, Julian Podger, Angus Smith.
Basses: Peter Harvey, Chris Purves.
They are supported by a fine continuo group as well.

This is a bit of a rarity, but I think any fancier of Purcell will find this a treasured performance."