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ALLA BREVE

August 15, 1993|TIMOTHY MANGAN

PURCELL: Ten Sonatas in Four Parts. London Baroque. Harmonia Mundi HMC 901438. Purcell's score, published posthumously in 1697, quickly fell into disuse because, not being in the then-fashionable Corellian manner, it was considered "clog'd with somewhat of an English vein." The modern ear will have difficulty finding evidence of arteriosclerosis in these intimate and graceful works, however, and the period-instrument ensemble London Baroque plays them with all the finesse and unself-conscious stylishness one could hope for. Despite the predominance of imitative and canonic writing here, there is nothing abstract about these pieces, in which poignancy, harmonic adventure, rhythmic vitality and melodiousness predominate.

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