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Brotherly Love Suite: Virtue in Danger. Cantata: By Silver Thames' Flow'ry Side. Sonata for Violin and Continuo. Symphonie Songs: Is Innocence so void of cares? When Daphne first her Shepherd saw. Cantata: the Beauteous Daphne. Morpheus Thou gentle God.  
Sprezzatura, with Evelyn Tubb (soprano)
Etcetera KTC 1232 [73'22"]
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Daniel Purcell did not die until 1717, outliving his famous brother by over twenty years. Overshadowed inevitably by Henry, whom he championed vigorously when the fickle public had turned to all things Italian, this CD reveals Daniel as no mean composer.

It is a quite brilliant sequence of theatre pieces, vocal and instrumental items with Evelyn Tubb irresistibly fresh, knowing and characterful, and in marvellous voice throughout. She is supported by seven expert baroque specialist players headed by Julia Bishop (violin), the whole produced by Anthony Rooley, who also contributes the introduction, and recorded in what must have been a serendipitous venue, Forde Abbey in Dorset.

Although Evelyn Tubb's diction is good, there is no question but that the provision of all the words adds immeasurably to the enjoyment. She never misses a sly innuendo nor fails to underline the sometimes histrionic emotions deployed shamelessly by deserted lovers. The beauteous Daphne is humorous and virtuosic, with a brilliant violin obligatto and By silver Thames' flow'ry side is an impressive cantata, possibly the earliest in the English style. Morpheus, thou gentle God gives her the opportunity to go over the top with jealousy in a 'mad-song', a popular genre at the time.

Steven Devine has a harpsichord solo, David Hatcher brings weight and dignity to his contributions on viola da gamba, and the recorder players too get their chances to shine. It is sometimes a little hard to determine whether one's intense enjoyment is due more to what is actually on the printed pages, or is more dependent on the imaginative embellishments brought to bear. These are indivisible in music of the period, and Rooley applauds the 'inspired improvisations' of Julia Bishop in the violin sonata and 'the interaction of performers, composers and auditors which 'is what Sprezzatura is all about'. He can't wait for more, and I endorse that sentiment.

The presentation is thorough in every detail and well illustrated. The recording is ideal for bringing these intense and often moving performances right into your living room. Top rating, without question!


Peter Grahame Woolf


Peter Grahame Woolf

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