With Isbé, a pastorale héroïque by Jean-Joseph Cassanéa de Mondonville, György Vashegyi has revived another overlooked dramatic work from the French Baroque – much as he did with Rameau’s Les Fêtes de Polymnie – for another release on the Glossa label. In his native Budapest, Vashegyi has been developing his interpretations of Baroque music with his Orfeo Orchestra and Purcell Choir for nearly three decades now, and for this recording he has assembled a magnificent team of vocal soloists, well-versed in the idiom of eighteenth- century French opera: Thomas Dolié assumes the important role of Adamas, the Chief Druid, who is besotted by Isbé, and yet is also provided with modern Enlightenment thinking (the opera was premièred in 1742).
Henry Purcell's Twelve Sonatas of Three Parts were issued in 1683, when the composer was 24 and the first wave of Italian trio sonata-like pieces was hitting France and England with earthshaking impact. Purcell followed Italian models with a pair of interlocking violin parts over a continuo, but the results are unmistakably English and hark back to the melancholy consort tradition, with oddly shaped lines and pungent dissonances scattered through the short, four-movement pieces (six or seven minutes in total).
Henry Purcell's oft-recorded opera, "Dido and Aeneas", is in fact the only one he ever composed, and renowned Baroque specialist René Jacobs turns out to be an ideal interpreter of this seminal 17th-century musical allegory. Not even an hour in length, the opera is an ideal introduction to this period of classical music, as Purcell melds a tragic love story with Shakespearean-level theatricality and surprising comedy elements. This 2006 reissue of a 1998 performance doesn't have quite the dramatic vibrancy of Emmanuelle Haïm's 2004 six-instrument ensemble, but it compensates with scope and polish…
The Indian Queen was one of Henry Purcell's final works and may in fact have been left unfinished at his death. Defining the state of the text is complicated by the fact that the work is a so-called semi-opera, a defunct form that mixed spoken dialogue, singing, and dance; the function of the surviving music isn't always totally clear. For those reasons, the work hasn't often been recorded. Many of the individual numbers are splendid examples of Purcell's style, with his sparkling ensemble dances and exuberantly rhythmic major-key tunes that seem to shake off dour minor introductory sections.
Compilations are highly useful in understanding the works of the inexhaustibly tuneful British composer Henry Purcell (1659-1695). He had a few big hits, like the Funeral Music for Queen Mary (which is included here) and the opera Dido and Aeneas (which isn't). But much of his best music is scattered around in small bits, residing within genres that are rather odd from today's perspective. Purcell spent much of his short adult life as a theater composer, and his incidental music, for example, is filled with perfect miniatures…
This recording of duets by the great composers of the Restoration is one of the gems of Hyperion’s catalogue. It features the celebrated countertenors James Bowman and Michael Chance at the peak of their powers, and the combination of their two voices with the sympathetic accompaniment of The King’s Consort creates something uniquely glorious.
With this recording, the Purcell Quartet reach the mid-point in their six-part series of chamber music based on La Jolla, and although this CD is devoted to Geminiani, the only work on that tune is, in fact, his concerto grosso arrangement of Corelli's variations for violin (Op. 5 No. 12). In addition, they have chosen the G minor Concerto grosso (distinguished by Geminiani's remarkable concertino viola part, played to good effect by Alan George), two of Geminiani's original solo sonatas (giving Catherine Mackintosh and Elizabeth Wallfisch moments in which to shine) and trio arrangements of two of his violin sonatas.
Alessandro Scarlatti wrote over 600 cantatas, two of which are on this 1987 disc performed by soprano Lynne Dawson and the Purcell Quartet: Correa nel seno amato and Già lusingato appieno. He wrote considerably less keyboard music – and next to nothing compared with the gargantuan achievement of his son Domenico – one of which is on this disc performed by Robert Woolley, the harpsichordist of the Purcell Quartet: the Variations on La Folia. With the chamber cantatas flanking the keyboard variations, this disc is a wonderful program of the elder Scarlatti's art. Though there are some who might argue English soprano Dawson is perhaps too reserved for this repertoire, none would argue that she doesn't have a clear voice and a supple technique. And while there are others who might argue the Purcell Quartet is perhaps too stringent for the repertoire, none would argue they don't play together with consummate ease and they don't accompany Dawson with brilliant mastery. But there are few who would disparage Woolley's blindingly virtuosic and blazingly demonic La Folia Variations.