Purcell King Arthur - BBC Music Magazine Opera Nominee 2020!

We’re delighted to announce that Purcell King Arthur 1692 – our latest release on Winged Lion Records – has been nominated in the Opera category of the 2020 BBC Music Magazine Awards!

Our new performing edition of Henry Purcell and John Dryden’s great 17th century patriotic opera (recorded here) has been causing quite a stir over the past year, with live performances gaining five-star reviews in publications all over the world, and our debut Australian tour winning the 2019 Helpmann Award for Best Instrumental/Chamber Ensemble Performance. As ever, the BBC Music Magazine Awards will be selected by the public, and we’d be grateful if you’d lend your voice to our campaign by voting online now!

But don’t just take our word for it – here’s what the critics are saying about Purcell King Arthur 1691:

★★★★★ ‘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.’

‘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.’

‘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.’

‘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.’

‘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.’

‘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.’

‘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.’

Voting closes at 11.59pm on Sun 16 February 2020, so don’t delay, and from all of us at Gabrieli – thank you in advance for your support!