Purcell: Ten Sonatas in Four Parts – A minor, Z804; D minor, Z805; G minor, Z806; C major, Z808; F major, Z810; D major, Z811; B minor, Z802; G minor, Z809; E flat major, Z803

Reviewed on Tue 08 Jul, 2014

Written in the early 1680s but not published until two years after his death, Purcell’s 'Ten Sonatas in Four Parts' are an amalgam of continental influences (specifically Corelli, whose first set of sonatas had appeared in 1681) and the English composer’s own unique way with piquant, dissonant, knotty, musical melancholy. Indeed, such is the introspective tone of this collection that it ought to come with an advisory: not for those of a choleric disposition. Robert King provides an authoritative commentary in the chunky booklet, and is a subtle presence on the keyboard in the 'fourth' bass continuo part, also accompanied by theorbo player Lynda Sayce. Above them the two violins and bass viol weave their contrapuntal webs around each other, warmly captured by Vivat’s pellucid recording – pin-sharp in its focus on the instruments – which puts the listener in the room with the musicians without ever feeling uncomfortably close.
–Mark Walker