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Henry Purcell Suites - SAVE £7

Henry Purcell Suites - SAVE 7

Ref: CD011

WAS £9.99 - NOW £2.99
39 tracks 70 min
Click here to preview trk 10

Martin Souter

The 1700 Joseph Tisseran harpsichord
The Bate Collection of Musical Instruments, Oxford

Price    2.99

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Henry Purcell

Suite 1 in G major
1 Prelude
2 Almand
3 Corant
4 [Minuet]
Suite 2 in G minor
5 Prelude
6 [Almand]
7 Corant
8 Saraband
Suite 3 in G major
9 Prelude
10 Almand
11 Courante
Suite 4 in A minor
12 Prelude
13 Almand
14 Corante
15 Saraband
Suite 5 in C major
16 Prelude
17 Almand
18 Corant
19 Saraband
Suite 6 in D major
20 Prelude
21 Almand
22 [Hornpipe]
Suite 7 in D minor
23 Almand 'Bell-barr'
24 Corant
25 Hornpipe
Suite 8 in F major
26 Prelude
27 Almand
28 Corant
29 Minuet
Six Transcriptions
30 March
31 Trumpet Tune
32 Chacone
33 [Jig]
34 Trumpet Tune, called The Cibell
35 [Trumpet Tune]
Miscellaneous Pieces from Oxford manuscripts
36 Aire
37 Air
38 Ground in Gamut
39 Round O

A Choice Collection of Lessons for the Harpsichord or Spinnet (London 1696)
GB: Ob Mus. Sch. E. 397
GB: Och MS 46
Joseph Tisseran harpsichord (London 1700)
Recorded by kind permission of the Bate Collection of Musical Instruments, University of Oxford
With thanks to Dr Hélène la Rue
Executive Producer Martin Souter
P & C 2003 Classical Communications Ltd
Made in Great Britain

The 1700 Tisseran harpsichord

Nothing is known of the maker of this fine harpsichord other than his name, Joseph Tisseran, and the existence of the instrument itself. The entire history of the instrument is known and documented from 1712 onwards, when it was sold to Edward Hanford at Woolas Hall near Pershore. It remained there for almost two and a half centuries before being sold in 1949. It was eventually acquired for the Bate Collection, in the University of Oxford in 1992. Research has revealed the fascinating and intriguing early history of this instrument. It was given two dates prior to 1712. A date of 1710 in ink below the keyboards is itself an alteration of an even earlier date of 1700. The reasons for these alterations are not clear, but suggest possibly that, when the harpsichord was sold several years after it was first built in 1700, the date was altered to make the instrument appear to be almost new.

This may seem unusual today when musical instruments are prized for their age rather than their novelty. The explanation of these eighteenth century changes to the date of this harpsichord seem uncannily close to the very modern practice of 'clocking' a used car to improve its value! The harpsichord is certainly the oldest surviving two manual English instrument and is unusually sumptuously decorated. The stunningly beautiful and elaborate soundboard painting is exceptional for an English harpsichord: we would normally expect an English instrument such as those of Jacob Kirckman (CCL CD010) to have veneered and inlaid casework and a plain soundboard. The Tisseran outer case is also exceptional, painted to imitate panels with gold spangles imitating Chinese lacquer.

Most of Henry Purcell's surviving keyboard music is found in a small volume which the composer's widow published in 1696, a year after his death. 'A Choice Collection of Lessons for the Harpsichord or Spinnet' is the first printed volume of English keyboard music to be devoted to a single composer. The collection consists of eight keyboard suites and six transcriptions of orchestral works. It is recorded here in its entirety along with a selection of other works from manuscripts which are to be found in the great music collections of the Bodleian library and Christ Church library in Oxford. The final piece on the album is a contemporary transcription of the melody from Purcell's stage work 'Abdelazar', which was made famous by Benjamin Britten, who used it in his 'Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra'.

Purcell's keyboard music owes much to the French musical style. All things French were highly fashionable in the London of his period, and each suite consists primarily of French dance movements, with a smattering of more robust English rhythms for good measure. The music has a hypnotic beauty, which is enhanced by the superb Tisseran harpsichord, which was tuned for the recording in a temperament which would have been very familiar to Purcell. This tuning differs from our modern 'equal' temperament by making some intervals more in tune than we might expect, while some are very much more 'out of tune'. This adds an interesting piquancy to the music. The effect of the tuning is to make chords and keys sound very calm and relaxing, while certain others are quite harsh in their effect.

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