Purcell: Theatre Music · 2

Johane Ansell soprano, Jason Nedecky baritone, Aradia Ensemble, Kevin Mallon
Naxos 8.573280
The Married Beau, The Old Bachelor, Sir Anthony Love, The Spanish Friar, Aureng-Zebe

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]hree years after it was recorded and eight years after the release of Volume 1 comes another Purcell anthology from Naxos. At this rate a complete survey will take almost fifty years! Much as Hogwood’s pioneering exploration of this music reflected both his and the time’s preference for near non-interpretation, this recording is rather more gutsy in its approach as is the trend now, and this will appeal to many. But I’m not sure that other aspects of the performance practice have quite the same allure, for me at least. The size of the string band at 3311 (no 16’, mercifully) is within the range of possibilities for theatre bands at the time but I’m less convinced by the churchy bloom to the sound. And I’m not remotely convinced by the frequent addition of assorted percussion bangs and tinkles and the assigning of various passages to solo woodwind (especially 4’ pitch recorder). Perhaps there is something to be said for ‘non-interpretation’ after all. I did , however, enjoy Johane Ansell’s (and no, she’s not a relative of mine with an alternative spelling) soprano contributions though again the addition of a cello to the keyboard accompaniment felt not quite right in HIP terms. So very much a curate’s egg, though more Purcell is never a bad idea. The essay (Eng/Ger) does well to cover the music’s context in less than two pages and the texts of the songs are also included in the booklet, but not translated.

David Hansell

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