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ALBUM TITLE: Purcell: Ten Sonatas in Four Parts
WORKS: Ten Sonatas in Four Parts: in A minor; D minor; G minor; C major; F major; D major; B minor; G minor; E flat major; G minor
PERFORMER: The King’s Consort


The King’s Consort consolidated its reputation with pioneering recordings of Purcell’s complete sacred music, odes and secular songs. So, at one level, it’s not surprising that somewhat belatedly Robert King has turned his attention to the sonatas Purcell’s widow published in a print bonanza aimed at stabilising her financial position. But one wonders whether there’s a touch of sibling rivalry, too. During the Consort’s temporary limbo, a trio from its offshoot Retrospect Ensemble released a widely acclaimed set of the same sonatas (reviewed July 2009). It proved an auspicious debut exuding a sweet and sensuous youthfulness. King’s reply is at once more bracing and rough-hewn, given a recorded sound up-close and detailed but lacking the spacious bloom Linn conferred on the Retrospect Ensemble. He’s ingeniously rethought Mrs Purcell’s arbitrary ordering, and ends with the magnificent chaconne-driven G minor Sonata Z807, using the so-called ‘Golden Sonata’ as a central pivot with sonatas in rising fourths before it, and descending thirds after. It’s a cogent call, creating a satisfying set.


Paul Riley