Purcell: The Fairy Queen, 1692

Purcell: The Fairy Queen, 1692 cover
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Purcell: The Fairy Queen, 1692
Carolyn Sampson (soprano), Anna Dennis (soprano), Gabrieli, Paul McCreesh Mhairi Lawson (soprano)

[ Signum / 2 CD ]

Release Date: Friday 10 April 2020

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Purcell's The Fairy Queen is based on Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, a play not frequently performed in the late 17th century, nor very well regarded ("the most insipid ridiculous play that ever I saw in my life" - Samuel Pepys' diary, 1662). Despite this, the play would go on to work well within an opera, as the characters of Pyramus and Thisbe could conjure up singing and dancing accomplices. Purcell's masterful composition, Gabrieli's first-class performance, and McCreesh's superb interpretation demonstrate why their recordings are seen as some of the best in classical music today.

Gabrieli are world-renowned interpreters of great vocal and instrumental repertoire, from the Renaissance to the present day. Founded by Paul McCreesh in 1982, Gabrieli have both outgrown and remained true to their original identity: whilst the ensemble's repertoire has expanded beyond any expectation, McCreesh's ever-questioning spirit, expressive musicianship and a healthy degree of iconoclasm remain constant and are reflected in the ensemble's dynamic performances. Gabrieli's repertoire includes major works of the oratorio tradition, virtuosic a cappella programmes and mould-breaking reconstructions of music for historical events. Above all, Gabrieli aims to create thought-provoking performances which stand out from the crowd.

GRAMOPHONE Award Nomination 2021 - Opera

"The flexible interactions between nine soloists (with three additional singers in choruses) is impeccable...Sampson's gossamer-like 'Ye gentle spirits of the air' is accompanied with imagination and tact by harpsichordist Jan Waterfield...Even if a splash more extrovert energy and tauter speeds here and there might have yielded more theatrical fizz, McCreesh's labour of love has abundant nuances and transcendent beauty.." Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice June 2020

"McCreesh's production rises to the occasion: original voicing, unorthodox continuo, project-specific trumpet design and rediscovered string techniques bring out qualities missing from earlier recordings. The choir transforms on command from a lightly teasing ensemble to a thundering chorus…Singers' additions, which stand out gloriously against a plucked-string-only accompaniment, cause amorous solos to ooze desire…Extremes, as McCreesh shows, belong to the fantastic worlds of The Fairy Queen." Five Stars BBC Music Opera Choice of the Month July 2020


1. Prelude
2. Hornpipe
3. Air
4. Rondeau
5. Overture
6. Come, let us leave the town
7. Scene of the Drunken Poet
8. Jig
9. Come all ye songsters
10. Symphony in Imitation of Birds
11. May the God of Wit inspire
12. Symphony in Imitation of Echo
13. Now join your warbling voices all
14. Sing while we trip it
15. See, even Night herself is here
16. I am come to lock all fast
17. One charming night
18. Hush, no more
19. Dance for the Followers of Night
20. Air
21. If love's a sweet passion
22. Symphony while the Swans come Forward
23. Dance for the Fairies
24. Dance for the Green Man
25. Ye gentle spirits of the air
26. Now the maidsand the men are making of hay
27. Dance for the Haymakers
28. When I have often hears young maids complaining
29. A thousand, thousand ways
30. Hornpipe

1. Symphony
2. Now the night is chas'd away
3. Let the fifes and the clarions
4. Symphony for the Entry of Phoebus
5. When a cruel long winter
6. Hail! Great parent of us all
7. Thus the ever grateful Spring
8. Here's the Summer
9. See my many colour'd fields
10. Next, Winter comes slowly
11. Hail! Great parent of us all
12. Air
13. O let me weep
14. Thrice happy lovers
15. Entry Dance
16. Symphony
17. Thus the gloomy world
18. Thus happy and free
19. Yes, Daphne
20. Dance for the Monkeys
21. Hark how all things with one sound rejoice
22. Hark the echoing air a triumph sings
23. Sure the dull God of Marriage / Hymen appear
24. Prelude as Hymen Enters
25. See, I obey / Turn then thine eyes / My torch, indeed
26. They shall be as happy as they're fair
27. Dance for Chinese Man & Woman - Chaconne