WORKS: Complete Anthems & Services Vol. 4
PERFORMER: Susan Gritton, James Bowman, Rogers Covey-Crump, Charles Daniels, Michael George, Stephen Varcoe, Robert Evans, etcChoir of New College, Oxford, The King’s Consort/Robert King
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 66644 DDD
After the extended anthems of previous volumes in Hyperion’s undertaking to record all Purcell’s church music, this disc develops the small-scale devotional songs — eight of them — contrasted with three more verse anthems and the mighty forces of the coronation anthem ‘My Heart is Inditing’. It’s a tribute to Purcell’s boundless imagination, to ingenious programming, and to the consistently high quality of the musicians that an archival anthology can be so enjoyable as a continuous performance.
Every number brings new riches and two have never been recorded before. ‘The Way of God…’ is a revelation: Michael George sings with effortless ease the wide-ranging, warlike declamation originally designed for the ‘stupendous’ John Gostling; James Bowman and Rogers Covey-Crump wring out agonised suspensions from the defeated enemies.
No less outstanding is the devotional song ‘Since God so Tender a Regard’, on a ground bass yet floating free of it with extraordinary ingenuity.
Instrumentalists play one to a part and are crystal clear in the Chapel Royal pieces. In the final coronation anthem they are scaled up to match the original forces in Westminster Abbey.
Four discs down, 11 to go — and this magnificent project shows no sign of flagging. George Pratt