Henry Purcell’s antiquated fantasias are famously dislocated from their time and yet so magnificently deliberate is their immersion in traditional instrumental devices that the viol consort tradition is given the most celebrated of tributes. Fantasia 4 (whose manuscript dates its completion on ‘June 10. 1680’) reveals the 21-year old not just playing with history in a series of exercises but taking established models, above all from Orlando Gibbons and Matthew Locke, and instilling his own command of chromatic harmony (in one place, Purcell registers eight key changes in seven bars) and contrapuntal artifice. This, the first of the 4-part fantasias, is a microcosm of invention: the trumpet imploringly enters, vocalising on a great augmentation of the theme, then moving into new territory which leads finally to a hocket-like finale, whose wrong-footedness is well served by the incisive articulation of the trumpet and piano in hand-to-hand combat.

Jonathan Freeman-Attwood

Parts included:

  • Trumpet in C
  • Piano