Sonatas of Youthful Genius

A dazzzling reading of Purcell by the Respect Trio.

Composer: Purcell

Repertoire: 12 Sonatas in Three Parts (1683)
Artist: The Retrospect Trio
Rating: 5/5

Genre: Chamber

Label: Linn CKD374

The Music: Purcell’s first instrumental publication was advertised in the London Gazette (1683) when he was 24. The style is Italian, which was currently popular: No.9 ends with a Sicilienne. The counterpoint is accomplished: in No.6 everyone plays the same melody at different speeds in fifth and octave canons. ‘Three Parts’ is a misnomer as there are four including the keyboard, which is fully independent in No.5.

The Performance: The Retrospect Trio, then, is actually a quartet. They engage with these youthful masterpieces with exuberance, lightness and respect for their dazzling genius. They thrill in the fugal Canzonas and move us in the profound Adagios. Violinists Sophie Gent and Matthew Truscott sigh through their heartbreaking suspensions in No.3. Jonathan Manson’s bass viol is nimble in the dark depths. Keyboardist Matthew Halls alternates between breathy organ and sparkling harpsichord, improvising freely and binding a beautifully balanced ensemble. 

The Verdict: The Retrospect Trio trample on previous views that these works are sub-standard Purcell.