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In his latest solo recital for harmonia mundi, Richard Egarr turns to the rarely heard harpsichord Suites by Henry Purcell. In his beautifully shaped reading, these eight muscular and quirky works, published the year after Purcell's death, are interspersed with seven shorter pieces built on a recurring pattern - a chaconne, a rondeau, and five 'grounds'. Richard Egarr has worked with all types of keyboards and is in great demand both as soloist and as accompanist. His collaboration with long-time duo partner Andrew Manze has been setting new performance standards since 1984. He is music director of the Academy of Ancient Music, and they recently recorded Handel's Organ Concertos Op.4 together, nominated for a Gramophone Award 2008. Handel Concerti Grossi Op. 3 won the Baroque Award in 2007.
“…Egarr is… brilliant in the G major Suite, introspective in its broody, lowering G minor sibling, and not beyond an utterly charming registrational surprise for the last track.”
“While the eight posthumously published suites (with judiciously selected miscellany to create some elbow-room between each) are woefully unknown, they are beautifully crafted. Purcell's keyboard style rarely reverts to French luxuriance, rather more questing in its unpredictable steers, deliberately wrong-footed harmonic inflections, often quite tough textures and extended lyrical journeys. Richard Egarr's devotion to these pieces comes in the form of studied spaciousness which allows these rich strains to become gently infused into our listening habits. This is no background tafelmusik, which is why it requires our indulgence, to stop and follow the thread – especially in the sustained narrative of the minor-key suites. If the Almand of the G major Suite offers homage to the exquisite character-piece Almans of Gibbons, the A minor work is prescient of 18th-century models in its directed figuration and the grandiloquence of its easy conflation of French and Italian styles. Indeed, one of Egarr's greatest achievements is to challenge the homespun perception of this repertoire and present it as great keyboard music. The C major Suite is a wonderful demonstration of this, as is the gamey tuning of the D major work with its burly final hornpipe. The harpsichord by Joel Katzman (after Ruckers) covers all the bases with its disarming colour, clarity and resonance. An outstanding recital.”
“A thoroughly persuasive case for these neglected masterpieces.”
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