10 Sonatas in Four Parts
Here is a very pleasant seventy-plus minutes of listening, not only for Purcell fans but for anyone who enjoys the well-matched timbres, agreeable ambience and eminently stylish playing of real baroque violins, bass viol and harpsichord (or organ) performed in an ideally, intimately resonant setting. These ten sonatas, published posthumously in 1697, are the second set of a total of twenty-two such works (the first twelve
appeared in 1683), and they contain all of the hallmarks of Purcell’s writing
that are so immediately ingratiating to the ear and appealing to the emotions.
These include tension-building dissonances and chromatic ascending/descending
harmonies (the final Adagio of Sonata V, the opening of Sonata VIII); lovely,
play-them-again, heartrending melodies (opening movement of Sonata II); lively
rhythms (Canzona of Sonata VII); and the always-clever counterpoint combined
with catchy tunes.
The performers here — Sophie Gent and Matthew Truscott (violin), Jonathan Manson (bass viol), Matthew Halls (harpsichord & organ) — are first-rate,
expertly articulating both the ebullient counterpoint and weightier
slow-movement harmonies with scintillating clarity and stylish regard for
sometimes abrupt shifts of mood and color from movement to movement. Needless
to say, the sound, recorded in a Berkshire, UK church, is absolutely spot-on.
- David Vernier