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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mixed reviews elsewehere – but I love it!
JUST AS A LOVER of a much-treasured novel approaches a big screen adaptation with a combination of nervousness and excitement, so it was for me with this fascinating new release of Henry Purcell interpretations and improvisations. For many years, it has intrigued me how the works of a celebrated English composer active some three hundred years ago can, today, maintain...
Published 3 months ago by Adrian P

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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I feel a real meanie, but ...
... after all the wonderful experiences Chirstina Pluhar has given us, this one feels like a real dud. Los Pajaros Perditos was a dazzler, as was the Monteverdi Vespers she did in St Denis. Teatro d'Amore, both in Metz and in Mexico, is one of my all time favourites. Mediterraneo was OK - lively, inspiring in playing and ornamentation.

It is left to the...
Published 4 months ago by Graeme Withers


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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I feel a real meanie, but ..., 8 Mar 2014
By 
Graeme Withers (Melbourne, Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Purcell: Music for a While (Audio CD)
... after all the wonderful experiences Chirstina Pluhar has given us, this one feels like a real dud. Los Pajaros Perditos was a dazzler, as was the Monteverdi Vespers she did in St Denis. Teatro d'Amore, both in Metz and in Mexico, is one of my all time favourites. Mediterraneo was OK - lively, inspiring in playing and ornamentation.

It is left to the singers to convey what is left of the Purcellian idiom, and they are great. But the "arrangements", almost all by Pluhar, bring immediately to mind the dreaded word: skiffle. In various renderings, Bach suffered this "updating" treatment years ago, but Purcell doesn't stand it. What Deller and David Munrow started - and performed amazingly on various CDs still available - and Hogwood and others continued, meets an inglorious end here.

Rock bottom is the 20 minute "bonus" DVD. Four songs are recorded, skiffle group well in view, each track with repeated end credits. Singers win, again. The final "trailer", also with credits, contains nothing but the opening bars of the four songs just performed. Is this the sort of shoddy stuff what we are to expect from Erato/Warner? Hardly likely to provide a new spike in CD buying.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a patch on previous albums by a very wide margin, 10 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Purcell: Music for a While (Audio CD)
I have to agree in part with the previous reviewer, and while Purcell's work does not adapt well to the Pluhar treatment the real thorn has to be the absolutely dire rendition of Cohen's Hallelujah, it is nothing short of dreadful. A shame, I will not be so quick to order future releases. in my humble opinion L'Arpeggiata & Pluhar should stick to what they excel at.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mixed reviews elsewehere – but I love it!, 17 April 2014
This review is from: Purcell: Music for a While (Audio CD)
JUST AS A LOVER of a much-treasured novel approaches a big screen adaptation with a combination of nervousness and excitement, so it was for me with this fascinating new release of Henry Purcell interpretations and improvisations. For many years, it has intrigued me how the works of a celebrated English composer active some three hundred years ago can, today, maintain their resonance and their power to move – and this is exactly the approach taken here in this new release, ‘Music for a while’, by Christina Pluhar’s L’Arpeggiata.

As a keen ‘Purcellian’, then – owning many fine recordings by such consummate performers as The King’s Consort with James Bowman, Susan Gritton et al (Hyperion), and William Christie’s Les Arts Florissants (Erato) – I was keen to discover these cross-genre re-imaginings of familiar classical pieces… and what a revelation!

Amongst Mr Purcell’s many compositional techniques was the ‘ground bass’ – a repeating bass structure over which he magically wove the most beautiful and varied melodies (often requiring detailed examination to believe that the same, recurring bass line is employed throughout). For instance (although not from this collection), the countertenor solo of Be welcome then, great Sir (from Purcell’s welcome song for Charles II, Fly, bold rebellion) is later elaborated, at length, over the same three-bar ground bass with the most ravishing orchestral ritornello. It would therefore, I suggest, be perfectly possible that this composer of great choral and theatrical masterpieces (as well as secular and even bawdy drinking songs) might be enthusiastically open to such improvisation and invention. So, with theorbo, archlute and cornet à bouquet, amongst many others, and a fine ensemble of players and choral soloists (whose styles range from period to contemporary), L’Arpeggiata set out to interpret Purcell with inflections of jazz, world and even pop, but with remarkable integrity.

A perfect example of the success of this project is 'Strike the viol' (from the 'Birthday Ode for Queen Mary', 'Come ye sons of art away'). The already melodious and dance-like brilliance of Purcell’s original, illustrating the soprano’s words ‘Strike the viol, touch the lute, wake the harp, inspire the flute’, are given the most glorious, rhythmic guitar and percussion treatment, along with the excitement of trumpet, electric guitar, wailing clarinet and ’60s ‘light my fire’ organ! The transcendent 'Evening hymn' is inventively transformed into a soft ballad with limpid piano over homely guitar and shimmering percussion – and whilst the crescendoing instrumental doesn’t quite hold the simple sacred reverence that Purcell intended, the bluesy piano and guitar here pleasingly demonstrate the improvisatory possibilities of these 17th/18th Century gems. ‘Twas within a furlong takes on a folksy, bluegrass feel, the animated words illuminated by shuffling percussion and mellow-but-lithe electric guitar; and the rhythmic vocal of 'Wondrous machine' (from Hail! bright Cecilia) sounds positively contemporary alongside pulsating tom-toms and jazz-infused bass, guitar, trumpet and clarinet.

The sublime and perhaps more well-known character of Purcell’s output is sensitively portrayed in delicate, yet modern readings of 'Music for a while' (a beautifully constructed jazz clarinet-led version with walking bass) and 'When I am laid in earth', which maintains its irrefutable and poignant beauty via weightless percussion, piano and guitar supporting a beauteous soprano voice (I recall Sir Michael Tippett being so affected with Purcell’s musical longing of “ReMEMber me”). And so the album continues, with attractive and often surprising reworkings of these great compositions.

Bonus track, Leonard Cohen’s 'Hallelujah', seems a little incongruous (unless it’s because I have never connected with this much-covered song, or don’t understand its relevance here). Perhaps I anticipated a ‘reversal’, with a very tight Purcellian treatment of this familiar late 20th Century hit – however, it is executed with the same attention to detail as the other sixteen tracks, and it could never detract from the overall ingenuity of this release.

It is difficult to second-guess the audience for Christina Pluhar’s visionary project – but, as a confirmed ‘Purcell purist’, I am suitably impressed, finding myself listening over and over to its intelligent, compelling beauty.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is a brilliant fusion of different musical styles along with great performances ..., 20 July 2014
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James Matthews (Surrey, UK) - See all my reviews
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This is a brilliant fusion of different musical styles along with great performances by players and singers alike. I rarely post a review but felt obliged to given some of the not so good feedback provided. I just wonder if the music is so unique that others accustomed to listen to the classics etc just cannot get it into their ears in a favourable light? In summary, personally I love this CD - it gives much pleasure!
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2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and misconceived, 15 May 2014
This review is from: Purcell: Music for a While (Audio CD)
Generally much less enjoyable when compared to other L'Arpeggiata offerings, the Leonard Cohen track in particular is incomprehensible as an addition and singularly poor as a rendition.

Cannot recommend this album - altogether poor.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Music with a difference., 15 May 2014
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K. F. M. Fisher (Sommerset) - See all my reviews
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Came quickly at a good price and well packaged. Not a startling cd only one or two tracks really caught our attention. Bought on a friends recommendation.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious music!, 7 April 2014
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This review is from: Purcell: Music for a While (Audio CD)
Fabulous musicians and original arrangement of Purcell - early music and Jazz are already a big favourite of mine, and the blend between the 2 is just magic.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Curate's Egg, 18 Mar 2014
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Mr. M. Parker "Bluegrasser" (Farnborough, Hampshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Purcell: Music for a While (Audio CD)
I have been buying CD;s from L'Arpeggiata for a number of years, and this is the first one to slightly disappoint: some of the tracks are trying to be too "trendy" and "cross-over": for me the electric guitar does not work. It is a pity as some of the tracks are a delight.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful fusion, 20 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Purcell: Music for a While (Audio CD)
This is beautifully imagined and crafted. Wonderful combination of English renaissance and jazz. Highly original and recommended.I just have to skip Dido's Lament, but that is my own personal preference...!
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Purcell: Music for a While
Purcell: Music for a While by Christina Pluhar (Audio CD - 2014)
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