Purcell, Blow

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Blow,Purcell
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi Suite
WORKS: The Bashful Thames; Dry Those Eyes; Lord, What is Man; Fly Swift, Ye Hours
PERFORMER: Christine Brandes (soprano); Arcadian Academy/Nicholas McGegan
CATALOGUE NO: HMT 7907167 Reissue (1995)
The eclectic musical and literary culture of late seventeenth-century England found its richest flowering in the music of John Blow and his student Henry Purcell, whose unmatched genius for setting words freely exploited French and Italian models. This generously filled disc of songs and instrumental music by these composers presents an impressive array of delightful pleasures that reveal the polished international sophistication of this repertoire.

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Christine Brandes applies her beautifully modulated soprano with equal effectiveness in French-style airs such as The Bashful Thames and Dry Those Eyes, and poignant laments on slowly pulsating bass ostinatos including So When the Glitt’ring Queen of Night and O Solitude.

When First Amintas and ‘Twas Within a Furlong show Brandes in engagingly rustic mood, while she displays her considerable operatic presence in passionate, deftly characterised renderings of Lord, What is Man and, most extravagantly, The Blessed Virgin’s Expostulation and Fly Swift, Ye Hours. Besides consistent stylish instrumental support, McGegan and the Arcadian Academy give fine performances of a pavane and two sonatas by Purcell that betray the prevalent Italian influence.

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Aptly characterised accounts of the exquisitely sweet-toned The Self-Banished and Blow’s unashamedly patriotic hymn to Music, Prologue: Welcome, Welcome, complete this genuinely charming concert. Nicholas Rast