PURCELL Henry, Fantasias

Purcell’s fifteen Fantasias, originally written for viols in 3, 4, 6 and 7 parts, were probably all composed in 1680. The style of this music – imitating the vocal motet – comes from a tradition of instrumental fantasia-writing that goes back to the Renaissance. Yet despite the self-imposed restrictions of the genre, and its apparent anachronism, Purcell reinvents this form with music of extraordinary beauty and expressiveness. The Fantasias in this evening’s concert were all written for four voices, emphasizing the link between these concise and concentrated masterpieces and the emergence of the string quartet in the next century.

Nigel Simeone 2013


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