on 12 July 2009
Robert King not only uses the trusted and excellent the Choir of New College, Oxford, but also uses his own Choir of the King's Consort, formed of professional male singers (mostly current or former lay clerks), and for the top line went around the country and handpicked his choristers from various choir schools, much like a 17th century Master of the Choristers at the Chapel Royal...
The result, combined with superlative instrumentalists, is utterly wonderful. The tempi are perfectly judged, the choruses are together and snappily sung, the verse sections really get to grips with Purcell's melodic and word-painting styles, but then who wouldn't after singing through the complete sacred music?! The programme notes, as usual for Hyperion, are excellent without being fussy, and the quality of recording remains exemplary.
If all you take away from this is Eamonn O'Dwyer's performance of the Evening Hymn ('Now that the sun hath veiled his light'), then you'll consider yourself blessed.
on 20 September 2004
As a counterpart to his complete account of Purcell's Odes and Welcome Songs, this Complete Sacred Music of Henry Purcell is a crowing achievement for Hyperion and for Robert King and his Consort.
It is hard to imagine that the orchestral or ensemble playing of Purcell will ever be surpassed easily, nor the choice of soloists who, a notable King trait, seem ideal for the roles they must play. The choral sound is fresh, alive and utterly convincing.
Whether you are an admirer of Purcell, or love English church music, or whether you simply adore great singing, then this collection will have you dipping into gems from a past glorious age. Having said that, many of the items on display here have rarely been outside the Cathedral canon in England, though rarely so engagingly or stylishly presented as here.
Once you listen to any of these offerings, either singly or in the box set, then your life will me enriched and changed at the deepest level. I can offer no greater laudatory comment than that.
on 16 January 2011
How does one describe the sublime? This collection is a great addition to anyone's collection, especially to those who enjoy the music of this exciting period in the development of English composition. There can be no doubt that Purcell was one of the greatcomposers of this period and his exploitation of tones and pitch that uses the acoustics of England's "Great Churches" has to be a part of the magic of his music. These recordings show off the music brilliantly, capturing the sound as Purcell intended it and avoiding the pitfall of so many of overpowering the delicacy of so much of it with choir, organ or orchestral accompaniment that is far too large.
The drum march from the funeral music for Queen Anne has to be one of the most haunting pieces in any collection, but it is really difficult tosingle out any one piece in this stunning compilation.
Wonderful music, beautifully performed.
on 28 December 2010
This is a wonderful set of CDs of sacred music by Purcell. Before I bought this set of CDs , I was very hesitant, regarding the amount of choral music there was. wasn't there needed some instrumental interludes ? I need'nt have worried, the music was and is so enjoyable , and nothing sagged. Disc after disc was and is a pleasure to play and listen to.The performances are hard to match and the recordings supream. I would not hesitate to obtain this box set, the listener will not be disappointed.