Purcell: Music for a While

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Purcell
LABELS: Erato
ALBUM TITLE: Purcell: Music for a While
WORKS: Music for a while: improvisations
PERFORMER: Philippe Jaroussky, Dominique Visse (countertenor), Raquel Andueza (soprano), Vincenzo Capezzuto (alto); Gianluigi Trovesi (clarinet), Wolfgang Muthspiel (guitars); L’Arpeggiata/Christina Pluhar

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Dim the lights for this laid-back sequence of improvisations on some of Purcell’s most beguiling songs. Long experienced in fusing Baroque with jazz-inspired performance styles, L’Arpeggiata’s approach breathes new life into the Restoration composer, whose ground basses are akin to riffs, his melodies folk-like in their raw simplicity; rhythms dance and swagger while his laments pre-echo the blues.

Baroque instruments and a jazz-style combo mix to intriguing effect: keyboard, guitar, bass and percussion provide a brooding rhythm section underscoring Raquel Andueza’s disarmingly candid singing of ‘Dido’s Lament’. Elsewhere, a plucked bass picks out Purcell’s hypnotic grounds and there are occasional extemporised breaks on electric guitar or clarinet. I never thought Purcell and Dolly Parton had much in common, until this performance of ‘’Twas within a furlong’ with its Country and Western-style guitars and twangy singing. Countertenors Philippe Jaroussky and Dominique Visse offer stylish contributions, the latter adding his distinctive theatricality.

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Kate Bolton