Purcell: Fantazias; In nomines; Pavan à 4

COMPOSERS: Purcell
LABELS: Mirare
ALBUM TITLE: Purcell
WORKS: Fantazias; In nomines; Pavan à 4
PERFORMER: Ricercar Consort/Philippe Pierlot
CATALOGUE NO: MIR 012
Purcell’s 13 ‘Fantazias’ and two ‘In Nomines’ for viol consorts of varying strengths without continuo date from around 1680. This delicately wrought and elusively expressive music is a high point in a tradition forged by earlier English Baroque composers, chief among whom were Gibbons and Locke. The pieces have always been especially treasured by lovers of Purcell’s music and have been judged by one writer as seeming to be ‘passionate revelations of the composer’s most secret thoughts’. Several excellent recordings of the Fantazias have come and, alas, gone in the past five decades: one of the best remains that made in 1963 by a then-recently formed Vienna Concentus Musicus.

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Philippe Pierlot and his Ricercar Ensemble prove themselves to be powerful advocates for this intimate repertoire. They are capable of conveying its multi-layered expressive nuances with stylistic assurance and striking concentration of thought. Indeed their responses, sometimes tender as in the closing bars of the second of the Fantazias for three viols, or the middle section of the F major Fantazia for four viols, sometimes ardent, sometimes playful, have a spontaneity that beckons us to savour the dialogue. There is also a rewarding dimension of fantasy in the playing which constantly surprises and stimulates our imaginative responses. In short an engaging disc which additionally contains Purcell’s lively Fantazia ‘Three Parts upon a Ground’ and the beautiful Pavan à 4 in G minor (Z752). The booklet, though, leaves much to be desired, omitting entirely any reference to key signatures or indeed to the works themselves.