Performance Wednesday, April 8, 2015 | 7:30 PM


Music for a While: Improvisations on Henry Purcell

Zankel Hall
Purcell’s works for the church, theater, and court displays his unsurpassed mastery in setting English words to music. Some of his finest songs, selections from his ceremonial odes, arias from his great stage works, and a beautiful sacred anthem will be showcased in this program that marks the return of L’Arpeggiata to Zankel Hall. Opera News wrote, “The concerts presented by L’Arpeggiata—the hip, international early-music ensemble—are fun happenings full of music flair, dramatic surprises, and improvisatory verve.”


  • L'Arpeggiata
    Christina Pluhar, Artistic Director
  • Nuria Rial, Soprano
  • Vincenzo Capezzuto, Alto
  • Gianluigi Trovesi, Clarinet


  • CAZZATI Ciaccona
  • PURCELL "Music for a while"
  • PURCELL "'Twas within a furlong of Edinborough Town" from The Mock Marriage
  • Improvisation: La Dia Spagnola
  • PURCELL "A prince of glorious race descended"
  • PURCELL "One charming night" from The Fairy Queen
  • PURCELL "Ah! Belinda" from Dido and Aeneas
  • PURCELL "An Evening Hymn"
  • PURCELL "Strike the viol" from Come, ye sons of art away
  • PURCELL Dido's Lament from Dido and Aeneas
  • PURCELL "Wondrous machine!" (Ode to St. Cecilia)
  • PURCELL "Two in one upon a ground" from Dioclesian
  • PURCELL "Here the deities approve" from Welcome to all pleasures
  • Improvisation: Canario
  • PURCELL "Man is for the woman made"
  • PURCELL "Curtain tune on a Ground"
  • PURCELL "Oh, let me weep" (The Plaint) from The Fairy Queen
  • PURCELL "Hark! How the songsters of the grove" from Timon of Athens


Pre-concert talk starts at 6:30 PM in Zankel Hall with Christina Pluhar in conversation with Jeremy Geffen, Director of Artistic Planning, Carnegie Hall.


Cazzati's Ciaccona

At a Glance

Henry Purcell’s lifetime (1659–1695) coincides almost exactly with the period known as the Restoration, following the restrictive Puritan era in 1660. Until his 30th year, Purcell was chiefly a composer of pious church music and pieces for festive occasions at court. When in 1688 William and Mary evinced less and less demand for court music, Purcell moved into the theatrical field and created most of his more than 40 scores for the theater in the last five years of his life.

The Restoration period long suffered from an extremely bad reputation among theater historians and Shakespeare scholars, while musicologists were accustomed to bewail with deep sighs the fact that with the exception of his only “true” opera Dido and Aeneas, Purcell had frittered away his genius on a bastardized form of musical theater. Admittedly, Purcell’s music, which was handed down in collections of songs compiled after his death, escaped condemnation and was held in high regard; but the contexts in which these pieces had originated now disappeared. It may be doubted whether his subsequent beatification did Purcell justice, for Britain’s honorary Orpheus was a child of his time, and his art was rich and flexible enough to encompass its contradictory tendencies. 


An Introduction to Before Bach

Before Bach
This performance is part of Off the Beaten Track, and Before Bach.

Part of