Daniel Purcell (The Unknown Purcell)

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COMPOSERS: Daniel Purcell
LABELS: Chaconne
ALBUM TITLE: Daniel Purcell (The Unknown Purcell)
WORKS: Toccata; Chaconne; Solos in D major, B minor, A major; Suite; Sonatas; Rondeau; Lovely charmer; What ungrateful devil moves you; Alass when charming Sylvia’s gon
PERFORMER: Hazel Brooks (violin), David Pollock (harpsichord)


Featuring more than a dozen premiere recordings, this disc makes an important contribution to our understanding of Daniel Purcell, younger cousin of the illustrious Henry. There are inevitably echoes of Henry here, notably in Daniel’s preference for hypnotic and harmonically scrunchy chaconnes, in his song-like idiom inspired by his work for the English theatre, and in the hotchpotch of French, Italian and English styles. But unlike Henry, Daniel exploited the nascent idiom of the solo sonata – multi-movement works contrasting fleet allegros, songful slow movements and jaunty dances. They are attractive pieces, transparently scored, though most of them lack development and breadth. The finest is perhaps the F minor work, with its elaborate and rhapsodic Adagio centrepiece. Violinist Hazel Brooks and harpsichordist David Pollock give competent performances, Brooks’s straight and sinewy sound informed by her experience of playing medieval fiddle.

The solo harpsichord pieces are mostly arrangements of songs or incidental music for the theatre. Playing a rich-toned copy of an Andreas Ruckers harpsichord, Pollock makes the music sing, dance and march with real technical aplomb. The Chandos recording is clean and detailed, though the spacious church acoustic is rather chilly.


Kate Bolton