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4.3 out of 5 stars
31
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 18 March 2017
Disappointed, this goes in my CD box of errors of judgement, Play around with Purcell all you like, but it does not satisfy this punter
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on 27 April 2017
Prompt delivery, securely packaged. Pristine original. Very satisfied.
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on 28 January 2015
Before I make my comments, please note that I'm reviewing the one CD only version.

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.
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on 20 February 2015
It's a wide world and there's room for everything. I love Purcell and I've bought all of this ensemble's previous efforts and I was willing to listen with an open mind. For people who are limited to a classical only viewpoint (and I respect that) - fair enough, it's not their cup of tea. I always think different is good
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on 8 March 2014
... 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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on 17 April 2014
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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on 16 January 2015
A typically enjoyable, stimulating, somewhat controversial project by L'Arpegiatta... and Purcell's music is perfectly able to survive the jazz fusion treatment, which is reminiscent of Jacques Loussier at times, although more idiomatically and instrumentally varied. Most of the out-and-out improvisation, on clarinet, guitar and piano, is done in a mainstream, swing-jazz style, with blue notes etc. It would have been interesting to have heard more improvisation within the baroque style, rather than simply grafting on mid-20th century American jazz idioms, but there is some enjoyable stuff here - "Strike the Viol" is particularly funky, with a raunchy clarinet solo.
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on 10 March 2014
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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The Austrian theorbist Christina Pluhar and her early music ensemble L’Arpeggiata are extremely popular in Europe and although they do not have the same cult following in the UK, their music is well worth exploring.

Following on from earlier discs in a similar vein, Pluhar and her ensemble are joined by two eminent jazz musicians, the clarinettist Gianluigi Trovesi and the guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel, to give us a delightful set of Purcell improvisations, spanning the centuries to transport listeners to a timeless music room, to paraphrase the sleeve notes. The improvisations are, it has to be said, highly respectful and bass lines and melodies remain by and large intact.

This may not be quite everyone’s “tasse de thé”, but the musicians are extremely accomplished and the end results are consistently pleasing.
Pluhar and her musicians are joined by some first rate vocal soloists, notably the celebrated countertenor Philippe Jaroussky. His fellow countertenor, the ever-entertaining Dominique Visse, contributes a typically idiosyncratic “Man is for the woman made”.

Leonard Cohen's "Halleluja" makes for an enjoyable bonus track.

Give this disc a try; you won’t, I think, be disappointed.
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on 17 May 2015
I think it's perfectly obvious why Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah is on the disc. The refrain of Cohen's Halllujah has firm similarities with the extraordinary final Hallelujah in Purcell's Evening Hymn that one almost wonders if Cohen was inspired by Purcell, and the mood/style/tone of the pieces is also strikingly similar. Particularly interesting comparing the performance of the Evening Hymn at Track 4 with the Cohen at the end.
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