Purcell: Come, ye Sons of Art; Love’s Goddess Sure

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LABELS: Virgin Veritas
WORKS: Come, ye Sons of Art; Love’s Goddess Sure
PERFORMER: Norma Burrowes (soprano), James Bowman, Charles Brett (countertenor), Robert Lloyd (bass); Early Music Consort of London/David Munrow
CATALOGUE NO: VER 5 61333 2 ADDReissue (1976)
Listening to David Munrow’s performances of two of Purcell’s odes for Queen Mary’s birthday, Come, ye Sons of Art and Love’s Goddess Sure, recorded in 1975, a year before he died, makes one wonder what kind of contribution to the Baroque movement he might have made had he chosen to live. No doubt it would have been considerable. Yet by modern standards, and despite his reputation as an overt showman, Munrow’s view of Purcell seems rather stately, tight-lipped, a touch reluctant to celebrate too joyously for fear of losing decorum. Perhaps that accords with Purcell’s own time, perhaps not. But there is no doubt that the up-front manner of the Nineties, with every hint of word-painting, every touch of character, exploited to the full, provides more in the way of instant pleasure. Good to hear again the voice of Charles Brett alongside his younger colleague, James Bowman; curious to hear the young Robert Lloyd and Norma Burrowes, though they are just as good. But the more up-front performances by Robert King and the King’s Consort on Hyperion – also with Bowman, as it happens – are the ones to have, even though they come on two different discs. Stephen Pettitt