Henry Purcell, The King's Consort - The Complete Anthems And Services Vol 8

Monday 1st August 1994
Henry Purcell, The King's Consort - The Complete Anthems And Services Vol 8

STYLE: Choral
RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
LABEL: Hyperion 66686

Reviewed by John Irvine

Henry Purcell, probably one of England's greatest composers, had a short but remarkably productive life, dying in 1695 at the age of 36. In 1679 Purcell had become the organist of Westminster Abbey and as a consequence had to compose music for the services of the Abbey. His speed of composition was so remarkable that within five years he had composed nearly a hundred anthems, services and other sacred works as well as music for the theatre, chamber works and his famous Odes and Welcome Songs. Purcell's style of composition included several elements: an older 'English' style stretching back early Jacobean times, as well as the newer 'French' style which was the preference of Charles II and was denoted by a light and bouncy rhythm. Whatever the influences, Purcell's music was quite magnificent and it was a severe blow to the development of British music that Purcell died so young. Although a fair number of Purcell's works are still regular items in the services of English Cathedral and Collegiate choirs, the majority of his output for church is seldom heard. The King's Consort has dedicated themselves to performing and recording all of Purcell's church music over a period of five years. This particular recording - Volume 8 - boasts quite outstanding settings of "In Thee O Lord Do I Put My Trust" (Psalm 71) and "Be Merciful To Me O Lord", as well as the popular "Magnificat In G Minor" and the rather tongue-in-cheek "They That Go Down To The Sea In Ships". The finest UK singers have been assembled - including James Bowman, Michael George and Eamann O'Dwyer - to ensure that the performances are quite exemplary. A fine selection of Purcell's work and a perfect performance.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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