Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Purcell - Ten Sonatas In Four Parts - The King's Consort

Rating: 5/5

Something special

I love this recording. I have fine versions of Purcell's four part sonatas by Musica Amphion and London Baroque which I have loved for years but I think I prefer this to either of them.

The music itself is wonderful, showing all Purcell's melodic gift and extraordinary harmonic invention. Although perhaps not his best-known works, these sonatas really show why Purcell is considered such a great composer, and their variety, depth and sheer inventiveness make them a constant pleasure for me.

The musicians here do them proud. Robert King is well established as a giant of this repertoire and he has assembled a small group of very fine musicians here and moulded them into a wonderfully cohesive, empathetic chamber ensemble. With people of the calibre of the great Suzanne Heinrich on bass viol you'd expect something pretty special and we certainly get it. The playing is effortlessly virtuosic, but also has a wonderful clarity, a sense of depth without being over-solemn, and a love for the music from all five players. They obviously enjoy playing together, and the overall result is a joy from start to finish.

I don't mean to gush, but I think this really is something rather special. It is beautifully recorded and the notes are very full, scholarly, interesting and readable. This is a terrific disc all round, in my view, and I recommend it very warmly.

(Someone has questioned whether I should be praising this recording given Robert King's recent spell in prison for child abuse. I have dithered over this, first posting the review, then deleting it and now posting it again. It's a fair question, but in the end I have decided to leave this review here as a comment on the music and to allow others to make up their own minds about the relevance or otherwise of the conviction.)

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