Purcell: Ten Sonatas in Four Parts - SA-CD.net

This is the first of a two volume account of Purcell's sonata's in Four Parts (the second volume is to be recorded in May 2010). On the evidence presented here, we are in for a treat in the not too distant future. It is also the Retrospect Trio's recorded debut on disc and also for Linn Records - they are a key chamber ensemble from the Retrospect Ensemble (previously The King's Consort).

This volume contains the second set of sonatas published after Purcell's death and bare witness to the degree of experimentation that he undertook in adopting and adapting the various Italian composers of the day who were becoming increasingly influential in England at the time. Because of this, we find many Canzona's as well as multiple movement works. The one exception to this rule is the 6th sonata in G minor, an extended (for the time) Adagio of 7 minutes in duration. In the main, the works are in the minor keys. On this disc, they are presented in numerical order which prevents a more dramatic distribution of the different tone colours - we can obviously change this with the aid of a remote control however.

The two violinists Sophie Gent and Matthew Truscott divide the honours equally as to who takes the first and second violin parts in these works. They are both highly accomplished players and it would be difficult to pick a favourite from either one given how quicksilver their runs are and how singing they render a cantilena. These characteristics and more help to give thrilling accounts of these works with their rich polyphony and interplay of the two swirling violin lines. Ably supporting this duo are the violist Jonathan Manson and the Ensemble's Music Director, Matthew Halls (on organ or harpsichord) who provide a rich, deep but subtle accompaniment that never weighs the musical progress down.

The recording captured in East Woodhay, Berkshire is also very fine and compliments the playing in every way - resonant without ever tipping into a boomy excess. The seperation and positioning of each participant is tangible and adds greatly to the enjoyment.

Highly recommended on every account.

17 December 2009