Purcell: Songs / Michael Chance, Florilegium

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PURCELL Songs: 1 Strike the Viol; The Queen’s Expedition; Here the Deities Approve; O solitude; Sweeter than roses; Music for a while; If music be the food of love; In the black dismal dungeon; An Evening Hymn. Dioclesian: 2 First music; Overture; First Act Tune; Dance of the Furies; Second Act Tune; Two in once upon a ground; The Chair Dance; Third Act Tune; Butterfly Dance; Country Dance; Dance of the Bacchanals; Still I’m wishing; Canaries; 2 Dances. Timon of Athens: 3 Curtain Tune Michael Chance (ct); Richard Boothby (vdg); Maggie Cole (hpd); Nigel North (lt, thb); 1 Florilegium 2,3 BRILLIANT 93937 (72:50)

I am unsure about the provenance of the music on this disc, which, though pleasing, combines two different sessions by two different groups. (The notes are uninformative; more mysteriously, the Brilliant Classics Web site doesn’t, if I have read it correctly, list this disc.) But the music is the thing, and the music here is beautifully stylish and well recorded, both the songs sung by countertenor Michael Chance, a known quantity since he began recording in 1980, and the theater music by Florilegium, a group of 10 accomplished musicians. Chance is an expressive singer and Nigel North an effective accompanist, as we hear especially in the most intimate songs, such as If music be the food of love. (North also plays on the Purcell song collection by Nancy Argenta.) There are a surprising number of alternatives to this collection, including performances by Alfred Deller, Emma Kirkby, Ian Partridge, and James Bowman who has done all the secular songs on three CDs. What this disc offers, besides the budget price, is a fine collection of songs with an equally fine collection of theater music, the lively “Country Dance” with its melody carried by two recorders as well as a “Bacchanal,” and several other imitative pieces. This is all light music, exquisitely tuneful and even boisterous in a courtly manner, and it has rarely been better played.

FANFARE: Michael Ullman

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: BRI93937

  • UPC: 842977039375

  • Label: Brilliant Classics

  • Composer: Henry Purcell

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Florilegium Ensemble

  • Performer: Michael Chance