Henry Purcell

Music for a while

Henry Purcell (1659-1695)
Orpheus Britannicus (ed. 1698 et 1702) – extracts
Suite n° 2 in G Minor, Z 661 (ed. 1696)
Suite n° 7 in D Minor, Z 668 (ed. 1696)


Mezzo-soprano: Grace Durham
Viola: Joshua Cheatham
Theorbo: Laure-Mónica Pustilnik
Harpsichord and musical direction: Christophe Rousset

Paris & Dortmund:

Mezzo-soprano: Ann Hallenberg
Viola: Atsushi Sakaï
Theorbo: Karl Nyhlin
Harpsichord and musical direction: Christophe Rousset 

Henry Purcell was raised to Parnassus shortly after his death, in 1695: Henry Playford published 2 collections in 1698 and 1702 named “Orpheus britannicus”.  This publication is a posthumous anthology of his most beautiful “songs” for one, two, and three voices, “together with symphonies” (i.e. accompanied or not, as the case may be, by flutes and violins). The collection was such a success that it was expanded in 1706 and 1721.

Christophe Rousset returns with pleasure to a repertoire that in 1993 provided him with the material for one of his first commercial recordings. He takes from it a selection of pieces for mezzo-soprano. The atmosphere here is intimate – a single voice accompanied by harpsichord and lute. It illustrates beautifully the genius of Purcell, whose prodigious talent enabled him to create an English artistic style heir to the Elizabethan tradition and set apart from the dominant French and Italian aesthetics.