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Henry PURCELL (1659-1695)
Songs and Sacred Airs
Track-listing at end of review
The Deller Consort
rec. 1959
REGIS RRC1366 [74:58]

Experience Classicsonline

How remarkable to think that this recital is over fifty years old now. It was originally released by Top Rank, according to the notes, and by Vanguard in America at the time of the tercentenary (the notes say ‘bicentenary’) of Purcell’s birth. It enshrines performances by Alfred Deller and his cohorts in The Deller Consort, and therefore includes names such as Walter Bergmann, George Malcolm, Maurice Bevan, April Cantelo, and also the string players who perform so warmly in the chamber music — violinists Neville Marriner, Peter Gibbs and Granville Jones and viola da gamba player Desmond Dupre.

There could be no finer way to start such a recital than Deller and Bergmann essaying Music for a while in an edition prepared by Michael Tippett and the harpsichordist. The purity of the Deller tone was still very much apparent at this period, though the voice does sound a bit pinched at the top of the range in I love and I must with Malcolm this time as the harpsichordist, and again in Tippett’s edition. Deller is back on top form for If music be the food of love. Let the Dreadful Engine receives, properly, a thoroughly dramatic reading, powerfully expressive, from Bevan and Malcolm. The baritone clearly relishes the ‘slatternly’ lines.

April Cantelo was assuming the laurels of Isobel Baillie in The Blessed Virgin’s Expostulation, as it was invariably known, and she acquits herself well. Her duet with Bevan in Upon a quiet conscience is notable both for her vocal resilience and for his warm, companionable tonal qualities. This is followed by a series of classic Deller/Bergmann recordings from a variety of sources. Fairest Isle is sung with directness, sweetness, his tone ‘shaded’ when necessary and gently expressive on certain salient words or phrases to heighten the expressive quotient. Sweeter than Roses was another of his ‘Greatest Hits’ but on no account overlook the beautifully sung I attempt from love’s sickness to fly.

The chamber works are, perhaps inevitably, the ‘Golden’ Sonata—No.9 in F—and the Pavan. The first recording of the sonata, I believe, was by an ensemble that included Isolde Menges and William Primrose, and this much later recording brings an equal enthusiasm and vitality to the work. The string playing is most accomplished; Dupre is especially proficient, and Marriner is a highly effective performer too. Perhaps some will not know of his career as an orchestral and chamber violinist.

This nostalgic, well transferred recital has good notes.

Jonathan Woolf

Track-listing

1. ‘Music for a while’ from Oedipus (1692) [3:58]
Alfred Deller (counter-tenor), Walter Bergmann (harpsichord)
2. ‘I love and I must’ [2:54]
April Cantelo (soprano), George Malcolm (harpsichord)
3. ‘Let the dreadful engines’ from Don Quixote, Part 1 (1694) [7:39]
Maurice Bevan (baritone), George Malcolm (harpsichord)
4. Epithalamium – ‘Thrice happy lovers’ from The Fairy Queen (1692) [3:01]
Alfred Deller (counter-tenor), Walter Bergmann (harpsichord)
5. ‘If music be the food of love’ (1st Version, 1692) [2:32]
Alfred Deller (counter-tenor), Walter Bergmann (harpsichord)
6. The Blessed Virgin’s Expostulation – ‘Tell me, some pitying angel’ (1693) [7:45]
April Cantelo (soprano), George Malcolm (harpsichord)
7. ‘Not all my torments’ [2:18]
Alfred Deller (counter-tenor), Walter Bergmann (harpsichord)
8. Upon a quiet conscience – ‘Close Thine Eyes’ (1688) [4:16]
April Cantelo (soprano), Maurice Bevan (baritone), George Malcolm (harpsichord)
9. ‘Fairest Isle’ from King Arthur (1691) [2:37]
Alfred Deller (counter-tenor), Walter Bergmann (harpsichord)
10. ‘Sweeter than roses’ from Pausanias (1695) [3:29]
Alfred Deller (counter-tenor), Walter Bergmann (harpsichord)
11. ‘The fatal hour comes on apace’ [4:15]
Alfred Deller (counter-tenor), Walter Bergmann (harpsichord)
12. ‘Crown the altar’ from Ode on Queen Mary’s Birthday (1693) [2:45]
Alfred Deller (counter-tenor), Walter Bergmann (harpsichord)
13. ‘I attempt from love’s sickness to fly’ from The Indian Queen (1695) [2:14]
Alfred Deller (counter-tenor), Walter Bergmann (harpsichord)
14. ‘O lead me to some peaceful gloom’ from Bonduca (1695) [3:05]
Alfred Deller (counter-tenor), Walter Bergmann (harpsichord)
15. ‘What shall I do to show how much I love her’ from Dioclesian (1690) [3:46]
Alfred Deller (counter-tenor), Walter Bergmann (harpsichord)
16. ‘From Rosy Bowers’ from Don Quixote, Part III (1695) [7:10]
Alfred Deller (counter-tenor), Walter Bergmann (harpsichord)
17. Sonata No. 9 in F (‘Golden Sonata’) from Sonatas of 4 Parts [7:32]
Neville Marriner, Peter Gibbs and Granville Jones (violins), Desmond Dupre (viola da gamba)
18. Pavan for 3 Violins and viola da gamba [3:20]
Neville Marriner, Peter Gibbs and Granville Jones (violins), Desmond Dupre (viola da gamba)


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 


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