Henry Purcell was commonly acknowledged as England's greatest composer when he died three centuries ago. But his reputation was slowly eclipsed by Handel's, and it wasn't until the early part of this century that it was rehabilitated. The period-instrument movement has zealously revived the bulk of his oeuvre, and Purcell's genius is the cynosure of the first local appearance by renowned Dutch early-music ensemble the Locke Consort. Named after Matthew Locke--who preceded Purcell as head of the string orchestra of Charles II's court--the four-member consort (Ubdhava Wilson Meyer and Mimi Mitchell on baroque violins, Susanne Braumann on viola da gamba, and Fred Jacobs on theorbo) is noted for its virtuosity. It should do wonders for the Italian pieces on the program--sonatas and vocal gems by the likes of Frescobaldi, d'India, and Carissimi. The more sedate English tradition is represented by a pair of fantasias for viol consort by Thomas Tomkins and "Loving Above Himself" by John Blow, who was the organist at Westminster Abbey before Purcell. Purcell songs from The Fairy Queen and Oedipus and two of his hefty, imaginative trio sonatas mix English melodic elements with Italianate dramatic lines. Soloist Derek Lee Ragin, who belongs in the front ranks of young countertenors,
makes his Chicago debut. Friday, 8 PM, Mandel
Hall, University of Chicago, 1131 E. 57th; 702-8068.