Arts-Scène Diffusion

Purcell & Friends

Purcell & Friends

Harpsichord - works of Henry Purcell (1659-1696), Green & unknowns


The harpsichord works of Purcell, one of the most prolific of 17th-century composers alongside Buxtehude and Charpentier, leave a strange impression: a curious collection of miniatures derived from vocal works and short suites of a pedagogical character. Nonetheless, keyboards occupied an important place in Purcell’s professional activity all his life: by 14, just after his voice had broken, he was maintaining the king’s keyboard instruments, and at 15 he became responsible for tuning the organ of Westminster Abbey. In 1678 he was appointed organist there, remaining in the post until his death.

It is certainly through the medium of transcription that his full genius reveals itself at the harpsichord: since the Restoration the fashion was for semi-opera or “English opera”, a genre descended from the masque, in which the theatrical variety of which the English were so fond could find expression.

Our programme is inspired by this Shakespearian richness of language, and includes a mixture of theatre, chamber and church music. Purcell’s various influences are represented – the Italian taste of the trio sonata, the French manner of the suite, the vocal style of the pavan. His music is interspersed with anonymous pieces of his time (some of them from the anonymous British manuscript of circa 1650 preserved in Paris) and with the later voluntaries of Maurice Greene, whom he influenced.


Anonyme, Paris Bibliothèque Nationale MS Rés. 1186: Tutte venite armati (1’)
Purcell, [sans titre] (1’)
Purcell, Prélude en do majeur Z. 666 (2’)
Purcell, Dance for chinese man and woman (Chaconne) (4’)

Purcell, Suite VII en ré mineur Z. 668: Almand - Corant - Hornpipe (6’)
Purcell, Rond O Z. T684 (1’)
Purcell, Ground in d Z. D222 (3’)
Purcell, Volontary for double organ Z. 719 (5’)

Maurice Green (1696-1755): Volontary III en la mineur (3’)
Purcell, Pavane en la mineur pour deux violons et basse Z. 749 (4’)
Purcell, Sonate V en la mineur à trois parties Z. 794: Canzone - Adagio - Largo - Grave, Canzona (7’)

Anonyme, London Brtish Library Add. Ms. 31446: A Verse (2’)
Purcell, Suite II en sol mineur Z. 662: Prelude - Almand - Corant - Saraband (7’)
Purcell, Chaconne  Z. T680 (4’)


50 minutes without break