These two reissues span each other by almost 25 years but the music making and period performance quirks are almost identical demonstrating the length and breadth of Gustav Leonhardt's outstanding vision. The opening anthem, "Rejoice in the Lord Always' demonstrates this vision in the subtle pacing of this deep and profound piece which is equally matched in the more famous "My heart is inditing' although one has to say that the splendour of Handel's identically titled piece still wins the plaudits.
Tragicomedia choose the poignant "Songs of Welcome and Farewel" as their calling card and there is much to enjoy here too. The suitably ebullient first song is titled "Welcome vice-regent of the mighty king" dedicated to Charles II return to London from the country retreat – a charming exposition if there ever was one. "Raise, raise the voice" is another outstanding welcome song which is also replete with typical Purcellian inspiration but Stubbs saves the best for last with the half hour, "Why, why are all the Muses mute?", one of the most underrated of these songs and which receives a marvellous performance here.
The recordings are of consistently high quality throughout with the earlier ones revealing a slight background hiss but clarity is certainly not compromised. If you missed these fine recordings first time round then you had better investigate them now in glorious 50th anniversary packaging.
Copyright © 2010, Gerald Fenech