Welcome to Hyperion Records, an independent British classical label devoted to presenting high-quality recordings of music of all styles and from all periods from the twelfth century to the twenty-first.

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The Musicians Extra-Ordinary

For most of its history the English monarchy has maintained a variety of instrumental musicians on its staff in addition to the singers of the Chapel Royal. Musicians (and others) who are directly employed by the monarch are formally designated as being 'in ordinary': the adult members of the Chapel Royal choir are 'Gentlemen-in-Ordinary'. Those employed on an occasional basis to perform with the monarch’s own musicians are thus described as 'extra-ordinary', both titles dating back to the very earliest records in the fifteenth century and before. The band assembled to accompany the Chapel Royal for this recording continues this tradition, a modern amalgam of their forebears referred to in the records as 'the musicians extraordinary for the violins' and 'the musicians extraordinary for the windy instruments'.

The choir at the 1685 coronation was huge and very oddly balanced by today’s reckoning: the Chapel Royal itself provided just 12 Children who had to do battle with 8 altos, 8 tenors and no fewer than 16 basses (including Purcell himself), the Abbey choir adding another 8 boys and 16 men. Similarly the whole strength of the 'King’s Choir of the Instrumentall Musick' was on hand, presumably all 24 members of the famous string band founded at the Restoration, 36 instrumental musicians in total. No attempt has been made to replicate those numbers for this recording: the current strength of the Chapel Royal choir (ten Children and just six men) is matched by solo instruments, as indeed was often the case in the Chapel Royal in Purcell’s day.


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