Harry Christophers and The Sixteen continue to mine the rich veins of Purcell’s seemingly endless creativity in this absorbing series. This latest instalment offers the royal welcome songs of 1681 and 1682, together with an astute selection of vocal and instrumental items. 

Harry Christophers

Swifter, Isis, Swifter Flow probably welcomed Charles II back to London from Oxford, where, in one of the defining moments of his reign, he summoned his antagonistic parliament and promptly dissolved it, to rule absolutely for the last four years of his life. In a typically fulsome text, the king is likened to a fount of blessings. With his usual flair, Purcell rises above this grandly sycophantic material to create a succession of contrasting numbers that allow ample opportunities for soloistic display, as well as indulging his penchant for piquant dissonances and ground bass. Tenor Hugo Hymas and bass Ben Davies bring particular elegance and clarity to their expressive task.

A year later, The Summer’s Absence Unconcerned We Bear follows a similar pattern,...