Henry Purcell spent his entire life in service to the Royal Family as composer and organist. In this capacity – and also as organist at Westminster Abbey - he composed the majority of his 70-odd anthems for Anglican worship.
While in exile in France, King Charles II had observed the opulence of Louis XIV’s courts at Paris and Versailles, and aimed to bring some of this European glitter to London. He wanted his Court string orchestra to add their airy brilliance to the Chapel’s familiar choral sound, as he had heard it done in France and encouraged Chapel composers, including Purcell, to adorn the music with instrumental preludes (‘symphonies’) and interludes (‘ritornellos’).
Purcell’s skill in counterpoint, unique expressive voice and unparalleled gift for English text-setting appear in happy combination in his church music. In his hands, the most worldly of toe-tapping symphony anthems can offer moments of touching intimacy, while an unaccompanied choir can be forged into an instrument of ceremonial splendour and exuberance. It is undoubtedly in masterful miniatures such as these anthems that Purcell made his greatest contribution to English church music.
Praised by The New York Times for its "precise, pure, and deeply-felt singing," and by the Los Angeles Times for its "luxurious perfection," the GRAMMY Award-winning vocal ensemble Chanticleer has developed a remarkable reputation for its vivid interpretations of vocal literature, from Renaissance to jazz, and from gospel to venturesome new music. With its seamless blend of twelve male voices, ranging from countertenor to bass, the ensemble has earned international renown as "an orchestra of voices."
“One cannot help but smile at such clever arrangements and superb musicianship with clean-as-a-whistle vocalism and musical personality galore." (American Record Guide)
“This men’s choir from San Francisco has made its name on the strength not only of its superb vocal blend, but also because of an inquisitiveness that has led it to some unusual and fascinating repertory.” (The New York Times)