Purcell King Arthur 1691

Purcell King Arthur 1691

Worldwide release 25 October 2019

Anna Dennis, Mhairi Lawson, Rowan Pierce, Carolyn Sampson (sopranos)
Jeremy Budd, James Way (tenors)
Ashley Riches, Roderick Williams (bass/baritones)

Gabrieli Consort & Players

Paul McCreesh (conductor)

Henry Purcell and John Dryden’s King Arthur, the great patriotic opera of the late 17th century, is recorded here in a lively new performing edition, after more than two decades in Gabrieli’s touring repertoire.

Purcell: Come if you dare

“★★★★★ A ravishing new production … choruses are more vibrant, dance rhythms more percussive and solos more delicate than in any previous recording … another jewel in McCreesh’s crown. ”BBC Music Magazine

“Throughout the opera McCreesh’s speeds are relaxed rather than driven – no bad thing, to my mind, and it results in Dryden’s wonderful poetry being acted with personable clarity, and the lucidity of musical gestures ensures that affection and intimacy are hallmarks of a performance that conveys a humane smile. ”Gramophone

“This is a cultivated performance, well sung and played … Carolyn Sampson sings a radiant invocation to the ‘Fairest Isle’ that provides a fitting paean to the nation. ”Financial Times

“The Gabrielis’ approach to Purcell’s zestful score is intensely musical but never reverential. They wear their virtuosity lightly yet their playing dazzles, with Jean-François Madeuf’s mastery of the intractable ventless trumpet a particular pleasure. ”Bachtrack

“The practical result of McCreesh’s and Suckling’s labours and deliberations is a sheer delight. The instrumental ensemble plays with a remarkable combination of fluidity and bite. The sound is so fresh and full that one seems to be hearing Purcell’s music for the first time. ”Opera Today

“The orchestral picture is delightful. The string playing is vibratoless but warm, with transparent textures and attractive openness. The winds are beautiful during Aeolus’ scene, and the guitar and theorbo give a real kick of energy to the continuo playing … The singing is really marvellous, too. It’s informed by historical practice, and performed by some of its finest practitioners; but there is never a hint of the academic about it: this is music performed out of pleasure, with the aim of giving pleasure to the listener … a presentation of the highest quality. ”MusicWeb International

“The result tempts only superlatives, for the new recording is as accomplished and richly satisfying an experience as anyone could hope for … the outstanding orchestral playing is one of the great pleasures of the performance, beguiling or rhythmically buoyant and pointed as circumstances demand … The eight [vocal] soloists are all excellent in their various roles … Throughout the acute attention to Dryden’s words is exemplary, an object lesson in projecting text with clarity and meaning. There is to my mind not the slightest doubt that this truly accomplished achievement is destined to become the reference recording for what is one of Purcell’s finest works. ”Opera

Winged Lion / Signum Classics


Oct 2019