Purcell: Complete Fantazias


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Purcell: Complete Fantazias and In Nomines

Released on 30 April 2009

Winner of Baroque Instrumental GRAMOPHONE AWARD 2009

The sheer technical mastery that Purcell distilled in his ‘fantazias’ is astonishing. But these fluid, animated and emotionally acute performances from Fretwork show that his secure scholarship in the art of composition by no means curbed his caprice. The most famous piece is the short five-part fantazia constructed around a sustained middle C, in which Purcell is still able to deploy a rich harmonic palette intermingling sadness and joy ‘“ just as he does elsewhere in this remarkable sequence.

Telegraph rating: * * * *

Geoffrey Norris, The Telegraph

“Fretwork’s playing is all one could wish for”.

“The musicians of Fretwork make you feel they are addressing you personally”.

“Just listen to the vitality and rhythmic bounce of the other five musicians of Fretwork”

Classic FM Magazine (Editor’s Choice)

Fretwork’s anniversary gesture for Henry Purcell, 350 years young this year, was inevitable. Curiously antiquated in concept and form, but enduringly modern in their realisation, these works speak with learned eloquence; the variety of mood and colour invested in them, and the sometimes startling harmonic adventures they contain, triumphing over any feeling of obsolescence (they were the last substantial works for the medium written by any English composer). The fine, deft and beautifully balanced performances here illumine Purcell’s positively Bachian contrapuntal ingenuity, even in the wonderfully complex In nomines.

Stephen Pettitt, The Sunday Times

Extraordinary music, this: a young man’s experiments in what by the late 17th century was an old English form, the string fantasia. Purcell twists the genre to his private purposes. Melancholy jostles with merriment, abruptness with eloquence; harmonies and logic go haywire. No group play the viol repertoire with more flair and feeling than Fretwork, and this rounded recording catches them on top form. Even the cover teases and charms ‘” it is part of a painting showing James I’s hand.

Geoff Brown, The Times


Catalogue number: HMU 907502






Date: March 10, 2013