Purcells Fantasias are both the climax and the final manifestation of a long tradition of consort music, and they bear witness to the incredible ability of a 21- year-old composer. The expressivity, startling harmonic invention, and contrapuntal virtuosity of these Fantasias have earned them a well-deserved reputation as the absolute summit of the English version of the stilo antico. The Fantasia first made its appearance in 16th century Italy as composers slowly broke away from a vocal style of writing, taking the name Fantasia for a purely instrumental work. Without the constraints of a text to be set or a dance form to fill out, the composer was now free to make use of spontaneous inspiration. Small wonder that Fantasias of this period appear in many different forms. However, all of them are based on the instrumental treatment of a given theme. The attraction of the Fantasia lay in the complications which could arise from the application of contrapuntal techniques such as imitation, augmentation, diminution, and inversion. (…)Download booklet
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