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Purcell The Complete Ayres for the Theatre

The Parley of Instruments/Roy Goodman

Hyperion CDS44381/3 (from CDA67001/3) TT: 3 hours 28 mins

After Purcell's premature death in 1695 many memorial volumes appeared, not least Ayres for the Theatre, the first printed collection of incidental music for the theatre, judiciously arranged to vary moods and include some of the dances and 'song tunes'. Accordingly, they make for very pleasant listening, and Purcell's originality and sheer genius is evident throughout. We have been taking them with breakfast, about half a disc at a time, vying with the Nimbus complete Haydn symphonies for that listening opportunity...

This appears to be The Parley of Instruments' second recording of Purcell's theatre ayres, previously on Helios conducted by Peter Holman (who is here credited with the explanatory notes only): see http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/al.asp?al=CDH55010 .

But it's no matter, these later 1994 performances conducted "from the violin" by Roy Goodman (ever remembered as the boy soprano who soars high in Allegri's Miserere in the classic King's College Choir performance) are excellent and the presentation is as one expects from Hyperion.

They make a desirable companion volume to put with Robert King's marvellous collections of Purcell's The Complete Odes & Welcome Songs and The Complete Odes and Welcome Songs.

Peter Grahame Woolf

q.v. Anyone who likes Robert King's interpretations of Henry Purcell will also enjoy these by Roy Goodman: the recording is in typical Hyperion style: uncluttered, clear, and under-stated. There is a beautiful instrumental version of Fairest Isle, and the tracks are all short and melodic, varying in style from from upbeat to sublime. [PJ]

Dowland, Holborne, Johnson etc

Flying Horse - Music from the ML Lutebook.

Elizabeth Kenny (lute)

Hyperion CDA67776

Received together with the Purcell/Parley of Instruments discs above, in which Hyperion names every player - including Elizabeth Kenny - this is a reminder how very accomplished are Britain's free-lance early instrumentalists, many of them to be heard in a variety of ensembles and orchestras.

The link above takes you to the complete track listing and a summary of the unusual genesis of the "ML Lutebook" [c. 1620], which contains pieces by Dowland, Johnson, Bacheler, Sturt and others, elaborated with fashionable ornamentation that may worry purists that it "distorts the smoothness of the melodies" but for most of us will enhance the pleasure.

Kenny is a a consummate virtuoso and scholar too; her notes unravelling the mysteries of this book, which reached the British Library in 1912, is something of a detective story.

Recommended to all lovers of the lute and its repertoire.