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Dip Your Ears, No. 236 (The Diaphanous Elegance of English Baroque)

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H.Purcell, M.Locke,
Orchestral Works
Vox Orhcestra, Lornezo Ghirlanda

On this most recent disc of the youngish Vox Orchesta under Lorenzo Ghirlanda, two of the finest pre-Haendelian English baroque composers are combined in some of their ‘greatest orchestral hits’: Henry Purcell (1659-1695) and Matthew Locke (1621-1677). What they have in common is a very fine, very ingratiating, never dry, never blatant or gaudy style of early baroque. As the booklet rightly points out, the English – long before Bach – combined European baroque styles to their own end: Operatic-Italian baroque with Courtly French dance, shearing the music of any excess in the process. The result, rather than faceless international baroque, is actually an appreciable, ‘very British’ style of its own. The orchestral collections from Purcell’s King Arthur, Dioclesian, The Fairy Queen und Locke’s The Tempest (replete with a few orchestrated arias) give the impression of a bracing collection of free-wheeling de-facto dance suites. The instrumentalists and especially the rocking continuo group of the HIP Vox Orchestra, founded by band leader Lorenzo Ghirlanda in 2015, makes you chair-dance all along. All properly measured, of course – the composers are English, after all – but most decidedly delightful!

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