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Purcell: Fantazias
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Purcell: Fantazias

29 July 1997 | Format: MP3

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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 29 July 1997
  • Label: Naxos
  • Copyright: (C) 1997 Naxos
  • Total Length: 53:03
  • Genres:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 387,865 in MP3 Albums (See Top 100 in MP3 Albums)

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Sentinel TOP 500 REVIEWER on 14 Sep 2010
Format: Audio CD
The Rose Consort of Viols add this to their previous impressive recordings of Dowland and Lawes Consort music. Viols,for the unaware, sound like a fairly earthy, and more stately/leisurely cello. At this point in Purcell's career, they were being largely replaced by the 'livelier/more spirited' violin. This beautifully played collection of Fantasias tends to reflect this, with a mostly stately and leisured approach (though there are also livelier pieces here), through this endlessly inventive, although brief series, of musical adventures and explorations. The two In Nomine included have a gentler, more meditative air than the Fantasias. This is complex, though accessible music, with an addictive richness of tone, though more earthbound and pedestrian than most of Purcell's other work, perhaps because it was not intended for performance. If you already enjoy 'early music', or enjoy the sound of 'lower register' instruments, you can still add this to your collection with confidence.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful By W. Tegner on 4 May 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I enjoy Purcell's music, but I doubt if I would spend an hour or so in my armchair listening intently to this CD. Instead it is pleasant background music, but cultured rather than "easy listening".
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4 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Mr. A. C. Maclennan on 19 Dec 2009
Format: Audio CD
I've been listening to a lot of Purcell recently - not sure why. Good car music. Easy to listen to.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 7 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Forget What Your 'Music Appreciation' Teacher Said 6 Feb 2009
By Giordano Bruno - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Most music histories would have us believe that the genre of the 'string quartet' sprang full-grown from the forehead of Joseph Haydn, was nurtured to maturity by Wolfgang Mozart, and achieved apotheosis in the works of Beethoven and Schubert. Certainly it is possible to follow the development of the form in Haydn's works, from his earliest quartets, which are little more than violin sonatas with lower strings rather than harpsichord, to his later masterpieces, in which the four instruments function as equals.

Nevertheless the string quartet had evolved before, and reached a degree of sophistication that even Mozart never exceeded, not as a suite of movements but rather as a 'set' of fantasies to be played on the "closed consort" of violas da gamba, which were built in various sizes from the viola-sized treble to the extended cello-sized bass. Pieces for gamba consorts were composed in all the musical countries of Europe in the 16th Century. It was in England, however, where the repertoire for gambas evolved most independently and achieved the most complexity. Composers like Tye, Byrd, Gibbons, and Lawes wrote polyphonic consort music of astonishing subtlety and abstract beauty, with each voice sharing in emotional expressivity.

The apotheosis of the gamba consort tradition was reached in the Fantazias and 'In Nomines' of Henry Purcell (1659-1695). Listening to this CD of such 'Other String' quartets makes me think of the evolution of winged flight, which has occurred convergently in reptiles, birds, and mammals, with roughly the same genetic architecture building different skeletal solutions. Words can scarcely evoke the evanescent emotional variety of these fantasies, or the modernity of their harmonic resources.

The Rose Consort of Viols, on this CD at least, reaches the same elite status as the gamba consorts Fretwork and Phantasm. Though these pieces could no doubt be played on violins and cellos - or saxophones, if you want to push the argument - the Roses leave no doubt for the ears that the gamba is not just a fiddle with frets. The timbre of these gambas is unmistakably different. It's often described as 'silvery', though I don't find it metallic in any way. Gamba overtones just seem to make space for tonal complexities to be heard. Emerging from the 'tenor-structured' musical theory of the late Renaissance, gamba consort music is naturally generous to the bass; the typical quartet 'chest' of gambas used one treble, one tenor and two basses, a formula that Purcell also preferred. Thus the gamba quartet has a dark, meditative, slightly melancholy affect, though Purcell is also capable of lightening the texture with sprightly gigues.

If the whole 16th & 17th C repertoire of the closed consort (music for instruments of the same family) is new to you, you couldn't do better than to introduce yourself to it with this CD by the English Roses.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Masterpieces from Purcell's 21st year. 2 April 2004
By John Austin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Purcell's lean and clean musical language is already recognizable in these wonderful works that date from 1680. The 12 fantazias, each about two pages long, are not played in numerical order here, and there are three other similar pieces for consort of viols shuffled in amongst them, providing a CD of 53 minutes duration. The sound of a consort of viols can sometimes be grating and strident. Everything here falls easily on the year. The famed English group, the Rose Consort of Viols, plays with searching intensity, finding the special character in each of these works, and the group's leader, John Bryan, provides the annotations.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful and expressive performances 24 Nov 2006
By Steven Guy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is a superb (and cheap!) recording of some of Purcell's most beautiful, expressive and intimate music. Whilst France was watching big operas with big orchestras, Italians were writing operas and concertos and the Germans and Australians were making very exciting music with strings, brass and woodwind, the English were still composing viol consorts! It is as if the "Renaissance" didn't end in England until sometime late in the 17th century!

However, rather than remaining stuck in the past, music in England continued to develop in its own unique way. Purcell's viol consorts are not inferior to the concerti grossi of his Italian contemporary, Arcangelo Corelli, in any way, even though they are ostensively composed in a style which was already obsolete in Italy even in Monteverdi's time 80 years earlier!

These works are beautiful, strange, lyrical and sublime and quite unlike any other music from this period in history. Yes, Henry Purcell was a musical genius.

There is nothing cheap about this recording. It would still be amongst the best interpretations of these works, and a potential first choice, even if this recording was at a normal full price.
beautiful music on authentic instruments 5 May 2014
By Margaret M. Criscuola - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
These "fantasies" are very beautiful--haunting with a touch of melancholy. The viol makes a very distinctive sound--quite different from modern cellos, v12iolas and violins.
Delightful 23 July 2012
By Samir Sobhy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Some scholars wonder why the young Purcell wrote the Fantazias (or Fantasias), featured in this CD when he was 21 years old. It seems that similar works by other - older - composers, such as Locke and Gibbons, inspired Purcell to write his fantasias, which are basically dance pieces in various movements, played on the viols at the Court and palaces of the aristocracy. However, Purcell gave his pieces very personal flavors, introducing new elements and approaches.
In addition to the 5 Fantasias, the CD contains 2 "In Nominee" pieces, which is a somewhat unusual type of music, used only by English composers. It is based on specific sections of the Mass, taken out as an instrumental piece.
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