In 1698, three years after the death of Henry Purcell, Henry Playford published the first volume of a collection entitled Orpheus Britannicus. Its contents included some of Purcell’s finest vocal music, and in one of the dedicatory poems, Purcell is described as the ‘all-pleasing British Orpheus’, on account of his unique abilities at composing for voices.

Just over a decade later, the German composer George Frideric Handel arrived in London for the first time, attracted by the city’s booming market for Italian opera — a world with which he was readily familiar, fresh from successes in Rome, Naples, Florence and Venice. However, as the fashion for Italian opera waned, the ever-versatile Handel turned his attention to setting English texts, going on to invent the English oratorio. Like Purcell, Handel also came to be frequently associated with Orpheus. In 1738, a statue of Handel was erected in London’s Vauxhall Gardens (now in the V&A Museum), clearly depicting the composer as the ancient Greek musical hero with his lyre.

While the two composers’ paths never crossed, much of Handel’s output reveals the strong influence that Purcell’s music made on his own practice, as he explored the expressive possibilities for setting the English language in his church music, odes and oratorios.

Join The English Concert for our streamed series, as we perform several first-class vocal and instrumental works by these two composers, who essentially constitute the two supporting pillars of English Baroque music.


Selections from Solomon
Foundling Anthem HWV 328

Dame Sarah Connolly – Alto
Sophie Bevan, Soraya Mafi – Sopranos
James Way – Tenor

Harry Bicket – Director

Purcell – Songs & Ayres
Golden Sonata Z.810
Purcell Chacony in G minor Z730
Sonata in Four Parts in G minor Z807
Sonata in 4 parts in E flat Z803

Iestyn Davies – Countertenor
Harry Bicket – Director

Purcell – Love’s Goddess sure was Blind Z331
Oh that my grief (newly discovered piece)
Since God so tender a regard
Purcell – Come ye, sons of art Z323

Julia Doyle – Soprano
James Laing, Christopher Lowrey – Countertenors
Anthony Gregory, Hugo Hymas – Tenor
Ashley Riches – Bass

Overture to Rodrigo HWV 5
Alpestre Monte HWV 81
Galliard – Bassoon sonata no 2 in G major
Lascia la spina (from Il Trionfo HWV46a)
Sonata a 5
Armida abbandonata HWV 105

Lucy Crowe – Soprano
Harry Bicket – Director

Selection from Ayres for the Theatre
Purcell Sonata in 3 parts no 6 in C, Z795
Croft – Ground for harpsichord in c minor ( formerly attr.Purcell)
Purcell Sonata in 3 parts in c minor, Z798
Handel Sonata in G minor or B flat from op.2
Handel – Sonata in G opus 5/4 (Athalia, Il parnasso in Festa etc)

Trevor Pinnock – Director

Concerto Grosso Op 6 No 5 in D Major HWV323
Selection from Samson HWV 57
Arne – 3 dances from the Masque of Comus
Selection from L’Allegro, Il Penseroso ed Il Moderato HWV 55

Carolyn Sampson – Soprano
Mark Padmore – Tenor

Harry Bicket – Director

The English Concert
Harry Bicket, Kristian Bezuidenhout and Trevor PinnockDirectors
Sophie Bevan, Soraya Mafi, Rowan Pierce, Carolyn SampsonSopranos
Dame Sarah Connolly, Hugh Cutting, James LaingAlto
James Way, Anthony Gregory, Hugo Hymas, Mark Padmore – Tenors
Ashley Riches – Bass