This is an album of vocal and instrumental music by Henry Purcell, his friends John Blow and John Eccles, and his younger brother Daniel Purcell. The instrumentals are two complete theatre music suites by Purcell, "Amphitryon" and "The Virtuous Wife". The vocal works of Purcell are taken from his operatic, ode and theatre works, while the others are mainly taken from theatre works.
Soprano Nancy Argenta and countertenor Daniel Taylor take turns in the solo works and combine for two duets. The ensemble includes such notaries as Adrian Butterfield on violin and Nigel North on lute.
Theatre was all the rage in England in the latter half of the 17th century and Purcell's contributions reigned supreme. In the theatre suites recorded here, dances of both the Continent and the British Isles feature, tuneful and graceful to the utmost. "Since From My Dear Astrea's Sight" from "The Prophetess" and "One Charming Night" from "The Fairy Queen" sung by Daniel Taylor are fine examples of poignant gentle writing which made Purcell so popular. He was also a master of music for special occasions, royal ones particularly, as evidenced here by the excerpts from "Come Ye Sons of Art" and "Welcome to all the Pleasures".
John Blow is mainly remembered for his sacred music, but the two works recorded here are derived from his sets of songs and the small amount of incidental music he composed. John Eccles was up there with Purcell as a master of theatre music and had a great interest in the Italian style. Nancy Argenta sings from his "The Mad Lover" and "The Comical History of Don Quixote" (which he worked on with Purcell), as well as an excerpt from his "Ode to St. Cecelia". Organist Daniel Purcell, who completed his brother's "Indian Queen", is featured with a delightful duet from "Pausanias, the Betrayer of his Country".
The performances here are exemplary all round - precise, expressive and authentic. There is great strength and confidence in the singing and the accompaniment is always well-judged. The recording quality is clear and atmospheric. A gentle album to wash your cares away.