Purcell: King Arthur

Purcell: King Arthur cover
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Purcell: King Arthur
Gabrieli Consort and Players, Paul McCreesh

[ Signum / 2 CD ]

Release Date: Friday 6 December 2019

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The great patriotic opera of the 17th century, recorded here in a lively new performing edition after two decades in the Gabrieli's touring repertoire. Notoriously difficult to present on disc or in concert, this version presented by Gabrieli was created to allow an obvious musical narrative, despite Purcell's music often being completely dislocated from much of the original theatre context.

Gabrieli have been performing the music from King Arthur for nearly a quarter of a century, evolving their interpretation over time. With the score having to be pieced together using separate versions (due to Purcell's originals being lost), and with Gabrieli's evolved interpretation of the music, the end product of this recording is truly unique. Their next release on Signum will be with the semi-opera by Purcell, Fairy Queen, in April next year, which is an adaptation of A Midsummer Nights Dream.

"Choruses are more vibrant, dance rhythms more percussive and solos more delicate than in any previous recording. Above all, McCreesh and his artists make us hear Purcell's genius for word-setting…But the chief delight of this recording is its consort aesthetic: rather than elbowing forward through virtuosity, the artists exert themselves to work as a collective…another jewel in McCreesh's crown." BBC Music Award WINNER Recording of the Year 2020

"The eight soloists with two additional singers form an excellent chorus that is adept in every context...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 the hallmarks of a performance that conveys a humane smile." Gramophone

"[McCreesh] gives us a performance benefitting from years of living with and thinking about the work, constantly evolving his approach to it. The result tempts only superlatives, for the new recording is as accomplished and richly satisfying an experience as anyone could hope for… 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


1. First Music - Aire
2. First Music - Minuett
3. Second Music - Hornpipe
4. Second Music - Scotch Tune
5. Overture
6. Aire
7. Woden, first to thee / We have sacrific'd
8. The white horse neigh'd aloud / To Woden thanks we render
9. The lot is cast / Brave Souls
10. I call you all to Woden's hall
11. Come if you dare, our trumepts sound
12. Prelude - Aire
13. Hither this way
14. Come follow me
15. Hither this way
16. Come follow me
17. How blest are shepherds
18. Shepherd, shepherd, leave decoying
19. Come, shepherds, lead up a lively measure
20. Second Act Tune - Rondeau
21. What ho, thou Genius of this isle!
22. What power art thou
23. Thou doting fool, forbear
24. Great Love, I know thee now
25. No part of my dominion shall be waste
26. See, see, we assemble
27. 'Tis I that have warm'd ye / 'Tis Love that has warm'd us
28. Sound a parley
29. 'Tis Love that has warm'd us
30. Third Act Tune - Aire

1. Aire
2. Two daughters of this aged stream are we
3. How happy the lover / For love every creature
4. You say, 'tis Love creates the pain
5. Fourth Act Tune - Hornpipe
6. Prelude - Rondeau
7. Ye blust' ring bethren / Serene and calm
8. Soft Tune
9. Round thy coasts
10. For folded flocks
11. Your hay it is mow'd
12. Fairest Isle
13. Tune for Trumpets
14. Sound Heroes, your brazen trumpets sound! / Let all rehearse
15. Grand Dance - Chaconne