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Composer: Purcell, Henry (1659-1695)

June 2018
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Evening performance
Matinee performance
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LondonDeath Speaks

Death Speaks
Lang, Schubert, Purcell, Bach, Kurtág, Dean, Ravel
Lotte Betts-Dean; Andrey Lebedev; Iona Allan; Joseph Havlat

LondonBach Violin Concertos

Bach Violin Concertos
Bach, Purcell, Handel, Vivaldi, Pachelbel
London Musical Arts; John Landor

BristolPurcell at the Pub

© Tristan Roperto
Purcell
Tom Williams; Choir of St Martin-in-the-Fields

BristolAn Italian in London

An Italian in London
Merula, Purcell, Cavalli, Boyce, Falconieri
Figo Baroque Ensemble

BristolHandel: Dixit Dominus

© Marcin Mazur
Handel, Purcell
Tom Williams; Figo Baroque Ensemble; Clifton Festival Chamber Choir
Latest reviewsSee more...

O/MODƏRNT at Wigmore Hall: A descent into melodrama

Hugo Ticciati © Marco Borggreve
Conceptually, the programme of descending and rising fourths offered a real treat: in practice, the musicians' skill was in danger of being lost as they attempted to recover from their opening gimmickry.
***11
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From Naxos to Carthage: Ancient Classical Tales from Karen Cargill and the Scottish Ensemble

Karen Cargill © Ken Dundas
Mezzo soprano Karen Cargill and the Scottish Ensemble guest-led by Matthew Truscott in a programme of music from Purcell to Stravinsky all inspired by tales from Ancient Greece.
****1
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Manze and Fox’s brilliant Britten

Andrew Manze © Benjamin Ealovega
The Scottish Chamber Orchestra also have a winner in a radiant Vaughan Williams Symphony no. 5.
*****
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Emmanuelle Haïm brings early music to the LA Phil

Emmanuelle Haïm © Simon Fowler
Familiarity doesn't always breed contempt: Bach's famous Air proves the highlight of an enjoyable evening of Purcell, Bach and Pergolesi in the magnificent surroundings of Disney Hall.
***11
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Manze spans the centuries at the Elbphilharmonie

Andrew Manze © Benjamin Ealovega
Marking his debut with the NDR Elbphilharmonieorchester, Andrew Manze nails his colours to the mast with Purcell and Vaughan Williams as well as accompanying Alban Gerhardt in Walton.
***11
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Biography

The nonpareil of English music

Henry Purcell enjoyed a meteoric career and a reputation that outshone that of all his contemporaries. He was brought up in the tradition of English contrapuntal choral music, becoming organist of Westminster Abbey at just twenty-two years old, but his main career was as a court composer at a time when French and Italian baroque styles were flooding into London. Uniquely, Purcell married the three traditions. He combined an impeccable ear for baroque harmony and instrumentation with a natural ability for counterpoint and a rare talent for setting words to music.

Together with his one-time teacher John Blow and the Italian immigrant Giovanni Battista Draghi, he created English baroque opera, with his Dido and Aeneas remaining the most popular of the genre. The shifting religious and court politics of his day resulted in his writing in a wide variety of styles, including everything from court odes to viol suites and keyboard music. His vocal music ranged from large scale hymns and anthems to intimate and popular songs which people would sing in the street. He could write sacred music of elegance and beauty, but was also a master of "catches", humurous part-songs with bawdy or seditious words.

To read more about Purcell's life and music, click on this biography of Purcell by the BBC's Terry Barfoot.

Key works
If you're unfamilar with Purcell's music, you have some treats in store. Listen to Dido's Lament from Dido and Aeneas, an extraordinary musical picture of the depths of despair, the Anthems and Services with their huge variety of vocal colour, or the wonderfully intricate instrumental fantasies (the Fantasy upon one note is particularly fine). To get you started, click here for a selection