- Orchestra: Capriccio Stravagante
- Conductor: Joseph Jennings
- Composer: Henry Purcell
- Audio CD (15 Sept. 2003)
- SPARS Code: DDD
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: Warner Classics
- ASIN: B0000AOVT3
- Other Editions: MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 328,122 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
Purcell : Anthems & Sacred Songs [Evening Prayer]
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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)
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"Henry Purcell looked like a Florentine prince, was hail-fellow-well-met in taven and taproom, wrote for the Church and also the stage and salon, was in fact, a most likeable young man as well as a great Master of Musick". Thus saith the historians, to which I heartily agree. For anyone to compose all the music that he did in a life-span of only 36 years is astounding to say the least! Except for his appointment as organist at the Chapel Royal and other churches, his compositions are the chief events of his life. His skill in counterpoint,his unique expressive voice and unparallelled gift for English text-setting appear in happy combination in his church music, and what better group to sing it, than Chanticleer!!!
Chanticleer's male sopranos help create a timbre whose intensity and clarity make a fascinating alternative to the classic English cathedral sound with which this music is normally associated, thereby bringing to the forefront the more universal qualities of Purcell's art.
All of the selections on this disc are much recorded and quite famlliar to the early music 'crowd'. "Rejoice in the Lord alway" and "I was glad' were 2 anthems written for the coronation of James II.
A very notable selection is 'Now that the sun has veiled his light' best known as "An Evening Hymn". This is not strictly speaking a church piece, but rather a sacred song for solo voice intended for domestic use; very popular with countertenors.
The selection "O Lord, rebuke me not" is sung on this disc by 2 sopranists ( the term usually used for male sopranos). and it is hauntingly lovely.
Purcell's final anthem (not included in this collection) entitled 'Thou knowst Lord, the Secrets of our Hearts' was written for the funeral of Queen Mary in 1694; six months later it again drew tears when it was sung for the composer's buriel in Westminster Abbey.
Chanticleer is perfection; the individual voices are top quality displaying clear diction, sonorous tone quality and as a group, the perfect blend.
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