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Music For A While - Improvisations on Henry Purcell
Henry PURCELL (1659-1695)
1. ’Twas within a furlong of Edinburgh Town from The Mock Marriage, Z605 [2:54]
2. Music for a while, Z583 [5:54]
3. Strike the Viol from Come Ye Sons of Art, Z323 [3:57]
4. An Evening Hymn 'Now that the sun hath veiled his light', Z193 [6:06]
5. In vain the am'rous flute from Hail, Bright Cecilia!, Z328 [4:33]
6. A Prince of glorious race, from Who can from joy refrain? [4:40]
7. O solitude, my sweetest choice, Z406 [5:23]
8. When I am laid in earth from Dido and Aeneas [5:03]
9. Wondrous machine [3:41]
10. Here the deities approve, Z339 [4:48]
11. Ah ! Belinda [4:10]
12. Hark how the songsters of the grove from Timon of Athens, Z632 [2:49]
13. One charming night from The Fairy Queen, Z629 [4:40]
14. Man that is born of a woman, Z27 [1:18]
15. O, Let Me Weep (Plainte) from The Fairy Queen, Z629 [7:19]
16. Curtain Tune from Timon of Athens Z632 [2:56]
Leonard Cohen (b. 1934)
17. Halleluja (Leonard Cohen) - Bonus track [6:04]
Philippe Jaroussky (counter-tenor), Raquel Andueza (soprano), Vincenzo Capezzuto (alto), Dominique Visse (counter-tenor)
Gianluigi Trovesi (clarinets), Wolfgang Muthspiel (acoustic guitar, electric guitar)
L’Arpeggiata/Christina Pluhar
Limited Edition - Casebound Deluxe CD + DVD (see end for contents of DVD)
Rec. June 2013 Institut Culturel Roumain de Paris, Salle Byzantine, Palais de Béhague, France
ERATO 4636203 [76:21 (CD) + 20:00 (DVD)]

In 1994 the CD Officium with its haunting mix of saxophone played by Jan Garbarek and early vocal music from The Hilliard Ensemble made a real impact, albeit a controversial one. Now, making a considerable impression, comes the vocal music of Henry Purcell on this Erato disc. It blends period and modern instruments. If the thought of hearing from the archlute and harpsichord with an electric guitar and bass clarinet seems incongruous try not to be put off. There are numerous rewards to be gained from this release.
Regarded by many as Britain’s greatest ever composer Purcell is scandalously neglected. It is to be hoped that this collection of songs, given a contemporary twist, will assist a turnaround of the composer’s fortunes. The performers L'Arpeggiata, a Parisian early music group, play period instruments and are led by theorbo player Christina Pluhar who has also prepared the arrangements.
To single out one vocalist it just has to be counter-tenor Philippe Jaroussky who is featured on five of the tracks; a cause for celebration for his growing legion of fans. Of the instrumentalists I must highlight jazz saxophonist and clarinettist Gianluigi Trovesi who provides assured and memorable playing on four tracks. Also worthy of special mention is jazz guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel who provides poised accompaniment on eight of the tracks. 

The ‘killer’ track is definitely the arrangement of Music for a While which would certainly be a big hit if Classic FM or a television series got hold of it. Philippe Jaroussky’s voice is in wonderful condition and his quite stunning vocal is meltingly beautiful throughout. The playing of Trovesi’s clarinet has an alluring tone. Jaroussky also displays his splendid velvety sound in An Evening Hymn: Now that the sun hath veiled his light. Of the other songs I loved the galloping rhythms of ’Twas within a furlong. Here the creamy tones of alto Vincenzo Capezzuto blend splendidly with the distinctive electric guitar. Impressive too is the heavily percussive Strike the Viol with the bright and appealing soprano of Raquel Andueza.

The spacious sound quality is vividly clear and well balanced. Directed by David Daurier the bonus DVD with this limited edition release contains a twenty minute film of the recording sessions comprising four works with a short trailer. It did look as if the synchronization between sound and vision was slightly out on my copy. I have the limited edition release and the numerous photos and essays in the booklet are produced to a high standard.
Beautifully played, recorded and presented this Erato disc is highly desirable and has undoubted crossover appeal.

Michael Cookson
Bonus DVD
1. Music for a while, Z583 [5:54]
2. ’Twas within a furlong of Edinburgh Town from The Mock Marriage, Z605 [2:54]
3. Strike the Viol from Come Ye Sons of Art, Z323 [3:57]
4. Here the deities approve, Z339 [4:48]
Dolby digital 2.0 ch, 48Khz, 160Kbps