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Purcell: Ten Sonatas in Four Parts

Retrospect Trio

Purcell: Ten Sonatas in Four Parts

...celebrating 350 years of Purcell
BKD 332 (Linn Records)
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Compact Disc

$20.00

Studio Master

FLAC 24bit 88.2kHz 1,291.6MB $24.00

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ALAC 24bit 88.2kHz 1,296.8MB $24.00

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FLAC 16bit 44.1kHz 377.9MB $13.00

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ALAC 16bit 44.1kHz 384.3MB $13.00

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MP3 320k 44.1kHz 167.7MB $11.00
Prices shown in US Dollars



Listen

Tracks: Listen and Download

Format
Track Time Listen
1
Sonata I in B minor - Adagio

Sonata I in B minor - Adagio

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
00:48 Play $1.70
2
Sonata I in B minor - Canzona

Sonata I in B minor - Canzona

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
01:20 Play $1.70
3
Sonata I in B minor - Largo

Sonata I in B minor - Largo

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
02:11 Play $1.70
4
Sonata I in B minor - Vivace

Sonata I in B minor - Vivace

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
02:02 Play $1.70
5
Sonata II in E-flat major - Adagio

Sonata II in E-flat major - Adagio

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
01:26 Play $1.70
6
Sonata II in E-flat major - Canzona: Allegro

Sonata II in E-flat major - Canzona: Allegro

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
02:07 Play $1.70
7
Sonata II in E-flat major - Adagio

Sonata II in E-flat major - Adagio

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
01:38 Play $1.70
8
Sonata II in E-flat major - Largo

Sonata II in E-flat major - Largo

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
01:00 Play $1.70
9
Sonata II in E-flat major - Allegro

Sonata II in E-flat major - Allegro

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
01:07 Play $1.70
10
Sonata III in A minor - Grave

Sonata III in A minor - Grave

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
01:28 Play $1.70
11
Sonata III in A minor - Largo

Sonata III in A minor - Largo

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
01:31 Play $1.70
12
Sonata III in A minor - Adagio

Sonata III in A minor - Adagio

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
01:18 Play $1.70
13
Sonata III in A minor - Canzona

Sonata III in A minor - Canzona

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
01:20 Play $1.70
14
Sonata III in A minor - [Allegro] Grave

Sonata III in A minor - [Allegro] Grave

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
01:33 Play $1.70
15
Sonata IV in D minor - Adagio

Sonata IV in D minor - Adagio

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
02:09 Play $1.70
16
Sonata IV in D minor - Canzona

Sonata IV in D minor - Canzona

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
01:26 Play $1.70
17
Sonata IV in D minor - Adagio

Sonata IV in D minor - Adagio

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
00:51 Play $1.70
18
Sonata IV in D minor - Vivace

Sonata IV in D minor - Vivace

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
01:51 Play $1.70
19
Sonata IV in D minor - Largo

Sonata IV in D minor - Largo

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
02:00 Play $1.70
20
Sonata V in G minor - [...]

Sonata V in G minor - [...]

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
01:45 Play $1.70
21
Sonata V in G minor - Canzona

Sonata V in G minor - Canzona

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
01:05 Play $1.70
22
Sonata V in G minor - Largo

Sonata V in G minor - Largo

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
02:43 Play $1.70
23
Sonata V in G minor - Adagio

Sonata V in G minor - Adagio

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
00:44 Play $1.70
24
Sonata V in G minor - Presto

Sonata V in G minor - Presto

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
00:16 Play $1.70
25
Sonata V in G minor - Allegro

Sonata V in G minor - Allegro

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
01:29 Play $1.70
26
Sonata V in G minor - Adagio

Sonata V in G minor - Adagio

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
00:33 Play $1.70
27
Sonata VI in G minor - Adagio

Sonata VI in G minor - Adagio

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
07:11 Play $3.40
28
Sonata VII in C major - Vivace

Sonata VII in C major - Vivace

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
01:03 Play $1.70
29
Sonata VII in C major - Largo

Sonata VII in C major - Largo

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
01:09 Play $1.70
30
Sonata VII in C major - Grave

Sonata VII in C major - Grave

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
00:37 Play $1.70
31
Sonata VII in C major - Canzona

Sonata VII in C major - Canzona

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
01:29 Play $1.70
32
Sonata VII in C major - Allegro

Sonata VII in C major - Allegro

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
01:36 Play $1.70
33
Sonata VII in C major - Adagio

Sonata VII in C major - Adagio

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
00:53 Play $1.70
34
Sonata VIII in G minor - Adagio

Sonata VIII in G minor - Adagio

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
01:49 Play $1.70
35
Sonata VIII in G minor - Canzona

Sonata VIII in G minor - Canzona

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
01:22 Play $1.70
36
Sonata VIII in G minor - Grave

Sonata VIII in G minor - Grave

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
00:38 Play $1.70
37
Sonata VIII in G minor - Largo

Sonata VIII in G minor - Largo

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
03:16 Play $1.70
38
Sonata VIII in G minor - Vivace

Sonata VIII in G minor - Vivace

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
00:34 Play $1.70
39
Sonata IX in F major - [...]

Sonata IX in F major - [...]

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
01:03 Play $1.70
40
Sonata IX in F major - Adagio

Sonata IX in F major - Adagio

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
01:19 Play $1.70
41
Sonata IX in F major - Canzona Allegro

Sonata IX in F major - Canzona Allegro

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
01:50 Play $1.70
42
Sonata IX in F major - Grave

Sonata IX in F major - Grave

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
01:15 Play $1.70
43
Sonata IX in F major - Allegro

Sonata IX in F major - Allegro

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
01:22 Play $1.70
44
Sonata X in D major - Adagio

Sonata X in D major - Adagio

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
01:17 Play $1.70
45
Sonata X in D major - Canzona: Allegro

Sonata X in D major - Canzona: Allegro

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
01:32 Play $1.70
46
Sonata X in D major - Grave

Sonata X in D major - Grave

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
01:19 Play $1.70
47
Sonata X in D major - Largo

Sonata X in D major - Largo

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
00:50 Play $1.70
48
Sonata X in D major - Allegro

Sonata X in D major - Allegro

Composer Henry Purcell
Band Retrospect Trio
00:56 Play $1.70
Total Running Time 72 minutes Purchase all tracks 
$13.00 
Prices shown in US Dollars

The first recording with this new super-group marks the 350th birthday of Henry Purcell.  This recording explores the timeless beauty of Purcell's ten sonatas including the magnificent Sonata IX, known as 'The Golden Sonata'.

Originally released in 2009, Purcell: Ten Sonatas in Four Parts has been re-issued as part of Linn's ECHO series which offers a second chance to enjoy the best of the label's award-winning catalogue. 

Download includes - cover art, inlay, booklet
Matthew Halls

Matthew Halls

Matthew Halls is the Artistic Director of Retrospect Ensemble, one of the UK's most exciting young conductors and an acclaimed keyboard player.
profile & recordings >>
Retrospect Ensemble

Retrospect Ensemble

Retrospect Ensemble intends to take its musicians and audiences on an exciting journey, exploring the repertoire of four centuries and embracing the practices, styles and aesthetics of former ages with renewed vigour and a fresh approach.
profile & recordings >>
Retrospect Trio

Retrospect Trio

Retrospect Trio is a baroque super-group of four superstar baroque instrumentalists: Sophie Gent (violin), Matthew Truscott (violin), Jonathan Manson (cello & viola da gamba) and Matthew Halls (conductor, organ and harpsichord).
profile & recordings >>

Gramophone Awards FinalistBaroque Instrumental category finalist

2009 Classic FM Gramophone Awards

 

The Ten Sonatas in Four Parts (published after Purcell's death in 1697) provide a fascinating insight into the cosmopolitan and often conflicting stylistic tastes of English musicians in the latter part of the seventeenth century. Purcell blends the significant French, Italian and English influences including unique use of counterpoint, unusual and exotic dissonances and strikingly abrupt melodic changes of direction. Purcell: Ten Sonatas in Four Parts is a fitting tribute to Purcell by four superstar baroque instrumentalists and the first recording in the highly anticipated Retrospect Ensemble series.


‘Retrospect play these richly rewarding works with precision, verve and perfect sensibility.' International Record Review

Classical CD of the Week: ‘The playing is immaculate...' The Sunday Times

‘The interplay of violinists Sophie Gent and Matthew Truscott captures Purcell's intricacy, and the shorter movements pass as if in a single breath.' The Observer

 

Purcell: Ten Sonatas in Four Parts

The two sets of sonatas composed by Henry Purcell provide a fascinating insight into the cosmopolitan and often conflicting stylistic tastes of English musicians in the latter part of the seventeenth century. Whilst musical tastes at court still leant very much towards the French models, with a particular penchant for ‘theatricall musick' and the ‘French air in song', English tastes at large were being challenged by the arrival on the London scene of several notable Italian violin virtuosi. This influx of Italian influences exposed the art of solo violin virtuosity to an astonished and - at times - altogether bemused English audience of connoisseurs and amateurs. On the one hand there were conservatives such as Thomas Mace, whose nostalgic fondness for the traditional string band repertoire led to a feeling of general uneasiness towards the new fashions of soloistic violin playing. Despite his public moanings about the latest assaults on his musical ear and his none-too-affectionate references to ‘Scoulding Violins' there were others, such as Roger North, who were altogether more enthusiastic about the arrival of the new Italian style. In marked contrast to Mace, he openly praised the talents of the latest Italian import, Nicolas Matteis, describing him as an "excellent musician" with a "singular" and "surprising" manner - judging the Italian virtuoso to have been second only to the great Arcangelo Corelli. Not surprising then that we discover North to have been one of ‘that company which introduc't the Itallian composed entertainments of musick which they call Sonnata's'. Of greater interest though is the fact that Henry Purcell himself participated in such musical gatherings in the company of these English musical Italophiles. His own remarks in the preface to the 1683 set of sonatas affirm a certain desire to promote the novelties of the Italian style.

‘Instead of an elaborate harange on the beauty and the charms of Musick (which after all the learned Encomioms that words can contrive, commends it Self best by the performance of a skilful hand, and an angelical voice): I shall Say but a very few things by way of Preface, concerning the following Book, and its Author: for its Author, he has faithfully endeavour'd a just imitation of the most fam'd Italian Masters; principally, to bring the seriousness and gravity of that Sort of Musick into vogue, and the reputation among our Countrymen, whose humour, ‘tis time now, should begin to loath the levity, and balladry of our neighbours: The attempt he confesses to be bold, and daring, there being Pens and Artists of more eminent abilities, much better qualify'd for the imployment than his, or himself, which he well hopes these his weak endeavours, will in due time provoke, and enflame to a more accurate undertaking. He is not asham'd to own his unskilfulness in the Italian Language; but that's the unhappiness of his Education, which cannot justly be accounted his fault, however he thinks he may warrantably affirm, that he is not mistaken in the power of the Italian Notes, or elegancy of their Compositions, which he would recommend to the English Artists. There has been neither care, nor industry wanting, as well in contriving, as revising the whole Work; which had been abroad in the world much Sooner, but that he has now thought fit to cause the whole Thorough Bass to be Engraven, which was a thing quite besides his first Resolutions.It remains only that the English Practitioner be enform'd, that he will find a few terms of Art perhaps unusual to him, the Chief of which are these following: Adagio and Grave, which import nothing but a very slow movement: Presto Largo, Poco Largo, or Largo by it Self, a middle movement: Allegro, and Vivace, a very brisk, Swift, or fast movement: Piano, Soft. The Author has no more to add, but his hearty wishes, that his Book may fall into no other hands but theirs who carry Musical Souls about them; for he is willing to flatter himself into a beliefe, that with Such his labours will Seem neither unpleasant, nor unprofitable'.

Setting aside for a moment this written endorsement of the Italian style, what makes Purcell's sonatas so remarkable is the way in which the composer synthesizes the most appealing ingredients of both the French and Italian styles, whilst not neglecting completely his English heritage and the harmonic curiosities of the indigenous consort style - homebred traditions very much in evidence in his earlier set of consort Fantazias.  The most obvious English precursors to Purcell's sonatas are the works of Ferrabosco and Coprario ("Cooper" to his friends!). Although generically French ‘suites' they are scored alla maniera Italiana for SSB and organ. Drawing heavily upon the traditions of the English fantazia style, John Jenkins and William Young reveal through their compositions a sense of harmonic daring which was to become one of the most appealing and essential ingredients of Purcell's own sonatas. Matthew Locke (Purcell's teacher) must also be mentioned as a significant stylistic influence on the young composer. In fact we hear already in the jagged dotted rhythms of the opening bars of the first sonata on this recording a style which is immediately recognisable and strangely reminiscent of Locke's unique and rhythmically-quirky musical language.

Purcell wrote twenty-two sonatas in total and they have been passed down to us in two published collections. The publication of the first set of twelve Sonnata's of III Parts (1683) was overseen by the composer himself. As we have already seen above, the composer writes in the preface that he has ‘faithfully endeavour'd a just imitation of the most fam'd Italian Masters'. Apart from capitalising on the obvious advantages (in marketing terms) of making explicit the Italian connection amongst his own musical circles, Purcell alludes to a significant degree of personal exposure to Italian repertoire that has fascinated scholars engaged in the search for more specific compositional models. Although we cannot say with complete certainty what the specific Italian models might have been - we know that he was aware of Colista's music and that sonatas by the likes of Cazzati, Vitali, Corelli and Bassani were available in London at that time - it is worth pointing out that one of the reasons we find it difficult to locate the ‘originals' is because the musical voice of the ‘imitator' is always the most immediately recognisable in the so-called ‘imitations'!

The second set of Ten Sonatas in Four Parts first came into circulation in 1697 (two years after Purcell's death), with a preface by his widow. There is much to suggest that, despite the posthumous date of publication, these sonatas were already well-known. His widow writes of them as ‘having already found many Friends'. It is most likely however - given the experimental nature of the musical style - that this later set contains earlier works than the 1683 publication and was probably compiled from extant instrumental parts.

From Playford's advertisement of the 1697 collection we learn that the bass string part was written for the bass viol rather than the bass violin and that the particular choice of keyboard instrument was apparently left open to the discretion of the performer.  The importance of the bass viol's contribution to the general musical discourse is such that we should view these sonatas within the sonata ‘a tre' tradition - predominantly a contrapuntal form derived from the early seventeenth-century canzona - as opposed to the more fashionable ‘a due' style of Purcell's immediate Italian contemporaries. Why then the numerical discrepancy between the title of the first set and the second set?

It is clear from remarks in the preface to the 1683 set that the composer's earliest intention was to publish three separate-part books on the understanding that the keyboard player would realise a simplified version of the bass line, in line with common practices of the day. With the arrival in London of several important new continental publications, Purcell clearly changed his mind and decided to follow the latest publishing trends by preparing a separate (fourth) part for the keyboard continuo player. It would seem his publisher, Playford, was happier not to be burdened during the late stages of preparation with the arduous task of altering the engraving of the title page to reflect this new vogue, leading to the apparent ambiguity. Despite the discrepancy, both sets of sonatas contained four part books - for two violins, bass viol and organ or harpsichord.

Purcell's sonatas are remarkable for many reasons but not least for the dense and closely-wrought contrapuntal interplay that characterises many of the faster sections.  Indeed it is through the richness of the polyphony and the sheer inventiveness of the melodic invention that we find the essence of the composer's musical voice. To this list of defining stylistic characteristics we should also add the composer's obvious and exquisite fascination with bitter-sweet harmonic progressions and the often almost unbearable boldness of his dissonance treatment as important hallmarks of Purcell's compositional style.

Judging by the surviving sales figures, Purcell's sonatas appear to have been only moderately successful in their own day. Only Sonata IX achieved real popularity in the 18th Century - republished in 1704 as ‘That Excellent Sonata in F...call'd The Golden Sonata'. As to why it may have been nicknamed in this fashion, scholars have pointed out the possible links with Bertali's Sonata Taussent Gulden or Vitali's La Guidoni (1669) - both in F major and based on the same triadic patterns one finds at the head of Purcell's sonata.

Whatever the reasons for the waning popularity of these sonatas in previous centuries, they continue to delight and enthral both performers and listeners alike today. They stand as wonderful examples of the composer's innate gift for assimilating the styles and trends of the French, Italian and English schools. This ability, coupled with his great flair for writing counterpoint led to the emergence of a truly individual musical language, charged with unusual and exotic dissonances and strikingly abrupt melodic changes of direction. Leaving the composer to have the final word, he once wrote of his art:

‘Musick is but in its nonage; a forward child, which gives hope of what is maybe hereafter in England, when the masters of it shall find more encouragement. ‘Tis now learning Italian, which is its best master, and a little of the French air to give it somewhat more gayety and fashion. Thus, being further from the sun we are of later growth than our neighbouring countries, and must be content to shake off our barbarity by degrees'. [!] © Matthew Halls, 2009

Recording information:

Recorded 3rd - 6th June 2008 in St Martin's Church, East Woodhay, Berkshire, UK
Recorded and produced by Philip Hobbs
Post-production by Julia Thomas, Finesplice UK
Keyboard technician : Edmund Pickering
Pitch : A = 415 Hz / Temperament : modified 1/5th-comma meantone
Design and cover photography by John Haxby

Musicians:

Sophie Gent - violin (violin 1: Sonatas 1, 3, 4, 5 & 9)
Matthew Truscott - violin (violin 1: Sonatas 2, 6, 7, 8 & 10)
Jonathan Manson - bass viol
Matthew Halls - harpsichord/organ 

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American Record Guide
'The music is meditative and reflective. The sound is excellent.'
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tommanoff.com
'...the conductor is an exceptional interpreter of [Purcell's] music.'
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Klassik.com
4 Stars
'Eine wertvolle, in vieler Hinsicht überzeugende Einspielung.'
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Star-Ledger of New Jersey
"...a lyrical, hypnotic marvel."
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SA-CD.net
5 Stars
"Highly recommended on every account."
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Listen
"The performances...are first rate"
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Opus Musica
"...el gran dominio, virtuosismo y pasión que sienten por sus instrumentos..."
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Sempre Audio
"Bereits unter dem Namen „The King‘s Consort" hatte sich die Formation der Musik..."
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Scotland on Sunday
5 Stars
"...performed with polish and grace."
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Gramophone
Editor's Choice: "ripe emotional tension...impeccable technique"
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Ensemble
5 Stars
"Diese CD ist ein überaus wertvoller Beitrag zum 350 geburtstag von Purcell"
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Audiophile Audition
5 Stars
Retrospect "throw themselves into the music with enthusiastic expert glee that makes listening a delicious, almost indecent pleasure"
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International Record Review
"Highly recommended."
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ClassicsToday.com
5 Stars
10/10: "Outstanding!"
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HMV Choice
"...a wonderful debut"
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Classic FM Magazine
4 Stars
"The ornaments slither dangerously and the dances tread with guilty lightness."
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BBC Music Magazine
4½ Stars
"Retrospect's Purcell makes a release of the three-part sonatas a mouthwatering matter of urgency."
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The Observer
"...this first release is superb..."
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BBC Online
"Wonderfully performed, fascinating...Bravo."
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Sunday Times
5 Stars
Classical CD of the Week: "The playing is immaculate..."
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Nottingham Evening Post
4 Stars
"...melodic invention, rich polyphony and bitter-sweet harmony."
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