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This CD is a compendium of English voluntaries spanning the period from the early 17th to the mid-18th centuries. As Robert Costin notes, the resulting programme surveys a development in style from the complex polyphony of Gibbons and Blow to the more Italianate, Handelian music of Stanley, Walond and Boyce. Costin’s playing is honest and stylistically sensitive if a bit literal in the more enigmatic earlier repertoire (Purcell’s Double Voluntary in particular). The organ is the 1980 Mander instrument (with some pipework dating back to 1708) at Pembroke College, Cambridge; probably the first attempt in the UK to partially reconstruct a lost historic organ. Thirty-plus years later it still sounds fresh, engaging and well-matched to the ringing acoustics of Wren’s chapel. The flexible winding adds a vital element to the music’s character but the (near?) equal temperament robs the pre-1700 repertoire of its essential key-colour. Unfortunately the booklet fails to include the registrations used, or even a decent photo of the instrument.

CHRIS BRAGG Read the full review on Agora Classica

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