Monday, 26 October 2015
English Royal Funeral Music - Vox Luminis
This is a fabulous disc. I tried it because I loved Vox Luminis's excellent disc of Schütz and if anything I like this better.
The programme is a musical reconstruction of the funeral of Queen Mary in 1695. It includes, of course, Purcell's wonderful music for the occasion, some very fine works by Thomas Morley and Thomas Tomkins, and a short piece each by James Paisible and Thomas Tollett. It makes a beautiful and affecting programme and the combination of the very familiar and the unknown (to me, anyway) is excellent. It isn't a reconstruction in the Paul McCreesh sense, in that it is simply a musical sequence and includes none of the other elements of the ceremony, but I like this very much and think it works excellently.
Vox Luminis's performances are uniformly excellent. They create a wonderful, full sound and the balance of voices with minimal accompaniment is ideal. The use of original "flatt" or side trumpets works very well and the singing is excellent. Recorded in a warm, resonant acoustic the larger choral pieces sound just fabulous, and smaller-scale pieces and so on are just as good. I get a real tingle in the spine from the soprano duet O dive custos, for example.
This is an absolutely top-class disc of wonderful music, beautifully performed. With excellent recorded sound, excellent notes and lovely presentation it's an all-round cracker and very warmly recommended.
(In April 2015. This disc has been chosen by Radio 3's Building A Library as the best available recording of Purcell's funeral music. Given the excellent and very distinguished competition, that's a high accolade but very well deserved in my view.)