Music for a While: Improvisations on HENRY PURCELL: Philippe Jaroussky, countertenor/ Raquel Andueza, sop./ Vincenzo Capezzuto, alto/Dominique Visse, countertenor/ Gianluigi Trovesi, clar./ Wolfgang Muthspiel, acoustic guitar & elec. guitar/ L’Arpeggiata/ Christina Pluhar – Erato 08256 463620 3 5 (CD + DVD Bonus), 76:21 [Distr. by Warner] *:

This is awful. I am a fan of Christina Pluhar, but this album is one of the most misconceived wrecking balls of reinterpretation that I have ever heard. Imagine if you will, a smoky nightclub, drinks flowing, conversation going, and then you hear Dido’s Lament coming from the mike in a version more perverse than anything you have ever heard. Well, that’s the nature of all these pieces. The biggest problem is that the music can’t decide what it wants to be. Some of the singing—three male altos to boot—is done in an almost period fashion with electric guitar and trap drums added underneath, giving us a hybrid that is confusing at best and belonging to no particular era at worst, while other tracks that are more obviously jazz are just plain  uninspired. What is it, jazz or classical? And why jazz improvisations instead of those that might be found in the 1600s? Both ways it doesn’t work, and neither the great sound nor technical wizardry of the performances saves this misbegotten anti-tribute to one of the greatest song composers who ever lived. Avoid.


1. ‘Twas within a furlong
2. Music for a while
3. Strike the viol
4. An Evening Hymn upon a Ground
5. In vain the am’rous flute
6. A Prince of glorious race descended
7. Oh solitude, my sweetest choice
8. When I am laid in earth (Dido’s Lament)
9. Wondrous machine
10. Here the deities approve
11. Ah ! Belinda
12. Hark ! how the songsters of the grove
13. One charming night
14. Man is for woman made
15. O let me weep (The Plaint)
16. Curtain Tune on a Ground
17. Halleluja (Leonard Cohen) – Bonus Track

—Steven Ritter