Great composer who simply failed to click the right boxes
You have to feel sorry for poor old Henry Purcell. He was born in 1659 B.Z. (before Zoom), so didn't have a 'commercial partnership' with streaming service Idagio and never had a gig with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, he was male, there are no crowdfunded novels about him, and, of course, in an age when diversity has become just another marketing tool, Purcell washes whiter than white. Which means today Henry doesn't receive the recognition he deserves. But some enlightened souls have given him his due. Benjamin Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra is sub-titled Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Purcell and is based on the Rondeau of the composer's Abdelazer suite. The reverence Britten held Purcell in is shown by twenty-five index entries for Henry in Humphrey Carpenter's definitive biography of Britten; which is five more than for another Britten cause, Mahler.
The folks at the Dutch budget label Brilliant Classics are also enlightened souls as they offer a bargain-priced 7 CD box of Purcell's complete chamber music. This is not a licensed compilation: the music is persuasively played and all the recordings were made for the label by the Dutch original instrument ensemble Musica Amphion directed by their founder harpsichordist and recorder player Pieter-Jan Belder. The sessions were held around ten years ago in the sympathetic acoustics of Dutch churches, and are captured in the crystal clear and deceptively simple but life-like signature sound of Brilliant Classic's in-house productions. Just like old Henry himself, this highly recommended box set fails to tick the right boxes mandated by the classical taste makers. Which is a very good reason to buy it.
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