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Penguin Guide, January 2009

This is both an enjoyable and a valuable collection, which not only includes the eight Harpsichord Suites driving from Purcell’s Choice Collection of Lessons for the Harpsichord but also some of the transcriptions of popular pieces from the theatre music. Purcell left this keyboard collection as a legacy for his wife, and they were posthumously published in 1696. The Suites are usually in four short movements, featuring a Prelude, Almand, Corant and Sarabande or Hornpipe. The Transcriptions were thought to have been made by others, but modern scholarship suggests that they were possibly made by the composer himself, and each is used as closing encore for one of the Suites, including the piece from Abdelazar made famous by Britten.  Terence Charlston, who is thoroughly musical and consistently spontaneous, gives first-class performances, with apt tempi. He uses a modern harpsichord made by Bruce Kennedy in 1993: it seems ideal for the scale of the music and is perfectly recorded in a warm but not too resonant acoustic. Highly recommended.

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