Purcell - Music for a While

Perfect Purcell on a superlative release chock-full of treasures

Author: 
William Yeoman

Purcell - Music for a While

  • O! fair Cederia, hide those eyes
  • Oedipus, Music for a while (song)
  • My heart, whenever you appear
  • I resolve against cringing and whining
  • Ah! how pleasant 'tis to love
  • I take no pleasure in the sun's bright beams
  • If music be the food of love
  • On the brow of Richmond Hill
  • (The) History of King Richard II, Retired from any mortal's sight
  • When my Aemelia smiles
  • Rashly I swore I would disown
  • I lov'd fair Celia
  • (The) Married Beau, See where repenting Celia lies (song)
  • What a sad fate is mine
  • Who can behold Florella's charms?
  • Not all my torments can your pity move
  • (The) Fatal hour comes on apace
  • She loves, and she confesses
  • (The) Knotting Song, 'Hears not my Phyllis'
  • (The) Indian Queen, Their looks are such
  • (The History of) Dioclesian, or The Prophetess, Since from my dear Astrea's sight (song: soprano)
  • (The) Rival Sisters, Celia has a thousand charms (song)
  • In vain we dissemble
  • A thousand sev'ral ways I tried
  • (The) Indian Queen, I attempt from love's sickness
  • Amidst the shades and cool refreshing streams

Versatile Dutch baritone Maarten Koningsberger and refined lutenist Fred Jacobs here join in the Henry Purcell 350th birthday celebrations with a beautiful recital of solo songs drawn from across the English Orpheus’s all-too-brief career.

Koningsberger has already distinguished himself in genres as diverse as opera, oratorio, consort song, the Baroque cantata, mélodie and Lieder, the latter including a recording of Die schöne Müllerin with guitar accompaniment – from which this disc is descended in terms of Koningsberger’s ability to adapt volume and tone to the requirements of a plucked-string instrument without sacrificing expressive power.

From the lightness and simplicity of the earliest song represented here, 1678’s “I resolve against cringing and whining”, to the declamatory, richly ornamented first section of “Celia has a thousand charms” from the incidental music to Robert Gould’s The Rival Sisters, or The Violence of Love (1695), Koningsberger’s innate musicality and subtle intelligence are evident in every phrase. Among the better-known songs, one has only to listen to the delicate vocal colourings in “Music for a while”, the skilfully realised connotations of melancholy and vanitas in “If music be the food of love” and the semantically apposite execution of the ornamentation in “I attempt from love’s sickness to fly” to realise the extent of Koningsberger’s interpretative gifts.

Moreover, Koningsberger’s English pronunciation is crystal-clear and virtually accentless. Add to all the aforementioned Jacobs’s utterly sympathetic theorbo accompaniments and you have one of the best Purcell recitals to have hit the shelves in years. Pity about distinctly unflattering cover images of the artists.

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