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COMPOSERS: Purcell/Draghi/Gibbons
LABELS: Virgin Veritas
WORKS: Suite in A minor; Suite in C; Suite in A; Suite in G minor; Suite in C minor; Suite in G; Prelude in G
PERFORMER: Davitt Moroney (virginals, harpsichord)
Discovered only in 1993, ‘The Purcell Manuscript’ appears to be the teaching manual of a keyboard student who was taught initially by Purcell, and later by his less celebrated colleague Draghi. At one end of the manuscript there are 21 brief pieces written out by Purcell; at the other end, 17 in Draghi’s hand. Purcell autographs are rare – fewer than twenty have survived – and the manuscript also includes previously unknown pieces by each composer (plus, in Purcell’s case, several unique keyboard versions of his theatre music), so its discovery is of great historical and musicological value. This premiere recording will be required listening for all Purcell aficionados. That said, two factors may diminish its appeal for the less specialist audience. Of the five previously unknown Purcell works, four are under a minute long (and the technical flaws of one suggest it was composed by his pupil). Then Draghi’s longer, more complex pieces take up nearly two-thirds of the CD’s playing time. Though enjoyable, his music rarely matches Purcell’s for melodic invention or rhythmic flair. Davitt Moroney plays impeccably on virginals (Purcell) and harpsichord (Draghi). The former’s intimate tones highlight the fleeting beauty of these glittering shards from the Purcell oeuvre. Graham Lock