Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Henry Purcell

I just got a book of Purcell's keyboard music and am having a great time working through it. His music is closer to Renaissance dances than that of Handel by at least a generation, and it shows. There's a clarity of movement that's more suggestive of the physical dances than you find in Handel. After Handel the dances are pretty much abandoned.

This music also seems a touch more modal than well tempered, which makes it all the more appealing to me. And the lack of complexity means its a treasure trove of materials to break out into three and four voice pieces for small ensembles.

The book is the Schirmer Oesterle edition, and as I worked though some of the pieces, they sounded very familiar. Turns out I'd gotten the Dover edition years ago, looked through it a bit, filed it away and forgot I had it. The thing is, the Oesterle edition has ornaments I'm fairly sure are inauthentic, but they sound great, and I prefer them to the authentic ones listed at the beginning of the Dover edition. Made me wonder if the piano (or in my case, electric keyboard) wants different ornaments than those that work well on the harpsichord or virginal.

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