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Fanfare Magazine: 17:2 (11-12/1993)
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Harmonia Mundi
HMG 508462.63

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Reviewer: Michael Ullman

At the heart of this new disc is the recording of Purcell's so-called "Funeral Sentences", which he adapted after the death of Queen Mary II from earlier funeral music. It is startling to learn in the notes to this disc that the noble brass music which frames and serves as interludes to these funeral anthems was originally found in Purcell's incidental music to Thomas Shadwell's The Libertine. I don't know what purpose it could have had in that play, but here the march is exquisite, sober, and impressive, and a welcome interlude among the three anthems which end with the comforting Thou knowest, Lord, the secrets of our hearts. Herreweghe's recording is beautifully expressive.

In much of the rest of this disc, Herreweghe goes up against the recordings of the complete anthems by Robert King which I have been recommending in these pages. There are numerous differences between the approaches of these two prominent early-music specialists. To sum up, I find Herreweghe most impressive in the most serious works. Despite his brisk tempos, I prefer the more cheery-sounding King recording of Rejoice in the Lord alway. King's choir seems marginally more at home in the idiom. But on the anthems he has chosen the Herreweghe is excellent as well. Fanfare readers will have to make up their own minds whether to buy the Purcell of both of these conductors. Those who want to hear the “Funeral Sentences“ will, at this point, have to go to the Herreweghe—which is not a bad fate at all.


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