Such was his renown in the musical world – ‘one of the most celebrated Masters of the Science of Musick in the Kingdom and scarce inferior to any in Europe’ – when Henry Purcell tragically died aged only 36 in 1695, that he was essentially afforded a state funeral. This collection brings together the composer’s complete works for strings.
Showing Purcell’s success as a cutting-edge composer, both sets of sonatas showcase the contrapuntal technique with which he would become so intimately linked, demonstrating the techniques that Purcell detailed in John Playford’s The Introduction to the Skill of Musick of 1694. The act of pushing the boundaries of composition here is in stark contrast to the Fantasias, which resurrected a form that had been long since forgotten. The use of the viol – rather than its more modern counterpart, the violin – is also a curious choice, but this series of works may in fact be the last written for viol consort. Among them in this special collection is the magnificent ‘Golden Sonata’ as well as the ‘One Note Fantasia’, in which the tenor viol plays a sustained middle C for the entire piece, perhaps showing Purcell’s impish sense of humour, with the part being intended for a particularly unskilled player.
The works are performed by Musica Amphion, a group dedicated to performing works of the 17th and 18th centuries on period instruments. The ensemble was formed in 1993 by harpsichordist Pieter-Jan Belder and the leader is violinist Rémy Baude, who is also concertmaster of Frans Brüggen’s Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century.
- Recorded in The Netherlands: 2006 (Hervormde Kerk, Rhoon) & June 2007 (Doopsgezinde Kerk Deventer)
- Featuring the famous Fantasias and the Sonatas in 4 Parts, music of immense contrapuntal skill and deep emotion, drawing unheard-of sounds from the ensemble, harmonies of poignant beauty and melancholy.
- Excellent performances by the Dutch Early Music group Musica Amphion, under the supervision of Pieter-Jan Belder, which received 5-star reviews in several international classical magazines.
- Contains extensive liner notes on the composer and works.