Purcell: Music for a While CD+DVD, Limited Edition
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Music for a While - Improvisations on Purcell
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I am a simple music listener and don’t know much about Purcell. I can say that I wasn’t as blown away by this interpretation as I was with the Monteverdi interpretation. Some tracks are up to par. Other tracks made me reach for a waterpipe and my flower power tracksuit; Dido’s Lament for instance. It’s like Dido and Aeneas just sat down for a nice dinner, she is already in her slippers and nighty but he has to take the dog out. He kisses her goodnight and goes out. Not quite what I had in mind when thinking about Dido. But as musical interpretations of goodnight kisses go: it’s a good one!
And Cohen’s Hallelujah, wellllll. It’s interesting and it made me laugh. Hard. But all in all a good CD. If it was any other ensemble I would have raved, but it being Arpeggiata; Pluhar has her own standards and they are high as a kite!
This brilliant and enjoyable music is just the job for classcial aficionados who are also jazz fans. For my shelves, I've categorised it as "Post-Modern Purcell". In Baroque music, there is alway dance and I believe the continuo players were permitted to improvise anyway, so the notions of rhythm and experimentation were always there.
The main reason for my review, though, is to contest the statement that the work contains "skiffle" and to quell the idea that it's going to be bashed out on strummed guitar, washboard and one-string tea chest bass. Nothing could be further from the truth. The pianist and guitarist play jazz at times, but the whole thing couldn't be more refined.
The use of a soprano who doesn't sound classically trained, or not fully so, is interesting - and poignant.
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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