Past Campaigns

Purcell: The Fairy Queen & King Arthur

Paul McCreesh and Gabrieli are widely regarded as the leading Purcellians of our day. Since our first Purcell recording in the mid-1990s, we have been known for joyful performances of the theatre works and inspiring, serene interpretations of Purcell’s sacred music. In January 2019 we will assemble a cast of some of the UK’s finest Purcell singers, performing alongside our peerless instrumentalists, to record his most-loved theatrical works, The Fairy Queen and King Arthur.

Gabrieli are renowned for exacting scholarship that inspires distinctive, individual interpretations. Our collaborative approach to this process of research and discovery harnesses the expertise of conductor and scholars, instrumentalists and singers alike. Such a voyage of discovery is essential to the recording process for this repertoire, thanks to confusion over original sources: there are over 40 surviving sources for King Arthur, all at least one copyist removed from the original productions; and while there are two extant sources for The Fairy Queen, they have very significant discrepancies.

Gabrieli also brings a forensic understanding of contemporaneous performance techniques to this repertoire, including a new bowhold for string players which transforms articulation and influences tempi; wind instruments using more basic, coarser reeds, for a more martial sound; and natural trumpets performing on instruments without holes, playing entirely through the adjustment of embouchure – a high wire act! Far from belonging to the confines of dusty academia, this closer understanding of Purcell’s music and its early performances revolutionises the way in which it is performed. To date no ensemble has recorded these great works with greater attention to detail, or finer interpretational insight.

“The joy of our work as musicians is that there is always something new to be said and to discover about a piece of music. If you are passionate about nurturing and preserving a work in something close to its original condition, there is always work to be done – whatever the period!” Paul McCreesh

For these recordings we are delighted to have assembled a cast that celebrates the pinnacle of today’s outstanding British talent: Carolyn Sampson, Rowan Pierce, Anna Dennis, Mhairi Lawson, Jeremy Budd, Charles Daniels, James Way, Ashley Riches and Roderick Williams.

Such an exciting endeavour comes, of course, at a price: in order to record these two works at the level they deserve in our exciting new performing editions, we must raise £170,000 by autumn 2019. We’re delighted to have secured over £130,000 already, thanks to the generosity of some of our loyal donors, but WE NEED YOUR HELP to reach our fundraising target!

To find out more about how you can help us reach our goal contact Susie York Skinner, Director of Development on 020 7613 4530 or via

And thank you in advance for your generosity.

Henry Purcell, © Tina Berning