Retrospect Trio is an offshoot of Retrospect Ensemble, which is in turn an artistically broader reincarnation of The King’s Consort. Sophie Gent and Matthew Truscott alternate as lead violinist in this debut disc, but they complement each other so well that it is difficult to differentiate between them. Together with Jonathan Manson’s deft bass viol playing and Matthew Halls’s supportive organ/harpsichord backdrop they offer vibrant, expressive, and utterly persuasive interpretations of Purcell’s cosmopolitan masterpieces.
These players revel in the dense, closely wrought contrapuntal interplay that characterises many of the faster movements and interpret Purcell’s bitter-sweet harmonic progressions and bold dissonances with searching intensity, reproducing all their expressive subtlety and meditative, often yearning affect. Particular highlights for me include these performers’ fine contrapuntal interplay in the numerous canzonas, particularly of nos.7 and 9, their dignified but subtly varied chaconne that forms the whole of no.6, their expressive treatment of the successions of appoggiaturas in the Largo of no.1 and the Adagio of no.9, their sumptuous realisation of no.4’s bold chromaticism s, their inégale approach to the Largo of no.3, and their rhythmic accounts of the dance-inluenced Presto and Allegro of no.5. The resonant church recording is exemplary. Bring on the second disc!