D. James Ross
Early Music Review
June 2014

This album very much "does what is says on the tin"—it promises a "stroll through the world of one of England's greatest composers" and that is what we get. Anthems alternate with songs and choruses from operas and odes in a rich demonstration of Purcell's extraordinary versatility. Although this bleeding chunks approach to early repertoire has become deeply unfashionable, it definitely has its merits, and when the music is as well sung and played as it is here, it needs no apology. The opening coronation anthem Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem with its portentous instrumental introduction is particularly impressive, but there is also some exquisite solo singing, most strikingly from alto Barnaby Smith, and the instrumental contributions are consistently beautiful, with tasteful phrasing and subtle and expressive ornamentation. The chilly accompaniment to the Cold Song from King Arthur is original and memorable, while Strike the Viol from Come, ye sons of Art fairly dances along with its infectious strumming accompaniment. One of my favourite tracks is Andrea Haines' account of Fairest Isle from King Arthur in which the strophic structure allows for some delicious ornamentation and some subtle flirting with inégal phrasing. This is a lovely collection, reflective of the composer's eclectic talents, and beautifully performed.