This is a fabulous disc. I tried it because I loved Vox Luminis's excellent disc of Schütz and if anything I like this better.
The programme is a musical reconstruction of the funeral of Queen Mary in 1695. It includes, of course, Purcell's wonderful music for the occasion, some very fine works by Thomas Morley and Thomas Tomkins, and a short piece each by James Paisible and Thomas Tollett. It makes a beautiful and affecting programme and the combination of the very familiar and the unknown (to me, anyway) is excellent. It isn't a reconstruction in the Paul McCreesh sense, in that it is simply a musical sequence and includes none of the other elements of the ceremony, but I like this very much and think it works excellently.
Vox Luminis's performances are uniformly excellent. They create a wonderful, full sound and the balance of voices with minimal accompaniment is ideal. The use of original "flatt" or side trumpets works very well and the singing is excellent. Recorded in a warm, resonant acoustic the larger choral pieces sound just fabulous, and smaller-scale pieces and so on are just as good. I get a real tingle in the spine from the soprano duet O dive custos, for example.
This is an absolutely top-class disc of wonderful music, beautifully performed. With excellent recorded sound, excellent notes and lovely presentation it's an all-round cracker and very warmly recommended.
Update: April 2015. This disc has been chosen by Radio 3's Building A Library as the best available recording of Purcell's funeral music. Given the excellent and very distinguished competition, that's a high accolade but very well deserved in my view.
on 27 April 2013
Wow, wow, wow.
This group simply goes from strength to strength. There is not a weak singer amongst them, yet there is no dominant one either.
They have succeeded to really get into the music, so much so in fact that you forget completely that they're not an English group!
I think what marks them out is that they are obviously immensely prepared - being technically good is not enough - there is no avoiding the practice however good you are.
A superlative recording and I can't wait for their next one!
on 14 July 2015
An outstanding CD combining exceptional singing, beautiful instrumental pieces and accompaniment, clear crisp acoustics and wonderful music.
The funeral anthems and sentences are contemplative with a lovely sonority.
The pieces by Morley and Tomkins (both pupils of the great William Byrd) were a pleasant discovery for me. I remember Morley as a composer of madrigals and was unaware he had composed such sublime sacred music.
It is clear to see why Purcell is considered the greatest ever English composer. Take track 3 "The Queen's Funeral March Z.860". He needs less than three minutes, a drum roll, and a few bars of a trumpet solo to reveal his genius.