Album Title: Henry Purcell: Ten Sonatas in four Parts
Performer: Retrospect Trio: Sophie Gent, Matthew Truscott, Jonathan Manson, Matthew Halls
Label: Linn Records SACD CKD332 (also available as FLAC, WMA and MP3 downloads)
Play Time
: 73'16"
Recorded: St Martin's Church, Berkshire UK, June 3rd to 6th, 2008

Sometimes I receive for review a disc I just don't get, either because I am unfamiliar with style and period or because the interpretation leaves me cold. I'll be honest. This is one of them. I have never been convinced of Purcell's chamber music and this disc won't get me to change my mind no matter how good the musicians are. And in all fairness to them, I think they are doing a great job even if the music feels completely uninspired to me.

So why bother with a write-up? For one thing, the Retrospect Trio was created in May of 2009 yet they recorded this disc a year prior. Second, Sophie Gent and Matthew Halls are far from unknown in the little circle of musicians performing on period instruments. I was interested in finding out what adventure they had embarked on even if their first release failed to fully grasp my attention.

Actually, you may recognize the Retrospect Trio and Retrospect Ensemble more easily if I tell you that just over a year ago they still operated as King's Consort, then named after their founder Robert King. If you have any interest whatsoever in period interpretations of baroque music, you will have heard of the King's Consort created in 1980 by then 20-year old King; and of its close to 100 recordings and re-creations with Harmonia Mundi spanning almost three decades.

What you may not know is that Robert King was sent to jail for engaging in sexual activities with minors about two years ago and that since that day the ensemble was left without a name although Matthew Hall stepped in as musical director. Thankfully Harmonia Mundi owner Hyperion has not removed the King's Consort's catalogue as originally considered. The activities of one man, no matter how distasteful, should not taint the image of one of the most creative musical groups of the past 30 years. Yet it was time for the King's Consort to be reborn under a new and clean name, hence the Retrospect Ensemble, from which the Retrospect Trio springs.

I can't help that Purcell's sonatas don't do anything for me whatsoever. Had it been any other musicians, I would have passed on writing about this as it clearly is outside my realm of understanding and sensitivity. But if you enjoy Purcell's chamber music, this is a disc to get even if only to support one of the most essential period ensembles ever who today are reborn under a new name and with a new record company. Meanwhile I shall wait for their vocal music of Händel or Vivaldi where they have never failed to amaze me over the years.