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The excellent Cris de Paris and Poème Harmonique tackle two of the most famous works by that most English of composers, Henry Purcell: the Funeral Music for Queen Mary and the first of his Cecilian odes, Welcome to all the pleasures (1683). The brass are suitably sober in the Queen’s funeral march despite the drum’s surely too elaborate part (Purcell left no music for the drum, so each player must find his/her own way). Les Cris de Paris adopt a no-nonsense approach to the vocal music, with delicately balanced verse and full groups. Their account of Thou knowest, Lord (the simple, homophonic version from 1695) is tender, its very beauty coming from the restraint of the group’s singing. No less successful are the 1683 Ode and Clarke’s Ode on the Death of Henry Purcell in which Clarke’s penultimate movement, ‘Mr Purcell’s Farewell’, finds echoes in Queen Mary’s funeral march. There are stylish solo vocal contributions too. An intriguing look at 17th-century English music from across the Channel.

PHILIP REED Read the full review on Agora Classica

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