Purcell’s Revenge: Sweeter than Roses?

  • INFO

Delving into the past is never a simple matter for David McGuinness and his indomitable Concerto Caledonia. But the present venture, even more than most, eludes verbal description. The group return – in the company of some starry guests – to the territory of their 2011 Britten tribute Revenge of the Folksingers, now engaging with music by Henry Purcell in a tapestry of arrangements and creative responses which is never less than surprising. Variations by eighteenth-century Scot James Oswald rub shoulders with the Purcell tunes they are based on, while original songs by Olivia Chaney and Ana Silvera and some literally ‘electrifying’ instrumental contributions add to the general air of expectations confounded.

"for all the riff-like charms of their ground basses, Purcell's songs have proved surprisingly resistant to reinvention...So to say that Concerto Caledonia's album veers between maddening and utterly joyous is to put them well ahead of the curve."

"Hate it or love it (and it will divide listeners) this CD is certainly a different take on Purcell, presenting some of his most famous dances and vocal pieces in versions that emphasise folk roots and folk styles of playing and singing...Invigorating and controversial."

"David McGuinness' Concerto Caledonia has a gift for springing anarchic surprises on the listener...Highly entertaining."

"the mixture of instruments works, played mostly by top-rate early musicians."


"a fascinating effort by Scotland's Concerto Caledonia, a group that spends much of its time recontextualizing early music. Chaney and fellow UK folksingerJim Moray join the group, which boldly mixes period instruments with modern ones."


"the overall effect is intoxicating. But the highlight must be Chaney’s utterly exquisite arrangement and performance of There’s not a Swain on the Plain. I have yet to take this track off 'repeat'"


Producer: David McGuinness
Release Date: 9 March 2015
Catalogue No: DCD34161
Total playing time: 1:06:04

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