PARROTT'S USE OF HIGH TENORS RATHER THAN FALSETTISTS ON PURCELL'S LOW-LYING 'COUNTERTENOR' PARTS IS CONSIDERED A LANDMARK!
This is a 2 CD package which involves 2 different recording dates and recording groups. Disc l: Odes "Welcome to all the Pleasures"-"Funeral Sentences"-"Come Ye sons of Art"-"Funeral Music for Queen Mary". The singers on this disc are:Emily Evera(soprano),Timothy Wilson (countertenor),John Mark Ainsley(tenor),Charles Daniels (tenor) and David Thomas (bass). It was recorded in 1988,
Disc 2: ode "Hail Bright Cecelia" with singers Emma Kirkby (soprano),Michael Chance , Kevin Smith (countertenors),Paul Elliot, Neil Jenkins, Andrew King (tenors)and Michael George, Richard Wistreich (basses).This disc was recorded in 1985. Contrary to Westphal's opinion, I do not like tenors to be given solos that should be sung by countertenors; the quality of the tenor voice is not light enough for these tunes. Of course, this is a personal reaction on my part, and is why I would not give this recording five stars. But, to be fair, the general reaction among critics has been very favorable, so I may be the only one in the world that feels this way.
An example of the previously mention practice employed by Parrott on this disc (one) involves the duet"Sound the Trumpet" that is most often sung happily, I think, by a 'high' countertenor and a 'low countertenor' such as James Bowman and Michael Chance, who can sing either part effortlessly. However, on this recording it is sung by falsettist: Timothy Wilson and high tenor: John Mark Ainsley; both excellent singers. So it's all in what you prefer.
Excellent performances of the Funeral Sentences and Funeral Music for Queen Mary are here as well, but the centerpiece of this set is 'Hail Bright Cecelia', the longest and most colorful of Purcell's odes in praise of the patron saint of music. All twelve soloists are enjoyable to hear especially: Emma Kirkby, Michael Chance, John Mark Ainsley,Timothy Wilson and Emily Van Evera.