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Classical - Released April 10, 2020 | Signum Records

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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. © Signum Records
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Classical - Released November 23, 2018 | Alpha

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Henry Purcell's King Arthur, or The British Worthy, occupies the small genre of English semi-operas, i.e., stage works in which the most of the main characters speak dialogue, but songs, choruses, and incidental music provide commentary on the action. This 2018 performance by Lionel Meunier and the period ensemble Vox Luminis presents King Arthur without speaking parts, so the music is continuous and complete on two CDs, and displays the variety of musical forms and effects Purcell employed to make John Dryden's somewhat confusing play -- a mixture of Norse and British mythology -- come to life. The singing is lively and rhythmically precise, and the cast's diction is clear enough to make following the libretto virtually unnecessary. The best-known selections of King Arthur include the famous Frost Scene (What Power Art Thou at the beginning of Act III, which was adapted by minimalist composer Michael Nyman for his composition, Memorial), and Venus' air from the closing masque, Fairest Isle, has endured as one of Purcell's most-beloved songs. Alpha's recording captures the performance with crisp details and a clean background that allows the voices and instruments to be heard without excessive resonance. © TiVo
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Classical - Released October 25, 2019 | Signum Records

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Paul McCreesh's Gabrieli Consort & Players form an even, ductile and very expressive ensemble: all qualities which are indispensable for anyone attempting Purcell's semi-opera King Arthur. No score has made it across the centuries between its composition and today in one piece. The soloists are eloquent, moving, spirited... You get the impression they'd be irresistible on stage, so precisely and closely do they listen to one another. The voices, which render the lines realistically, remind us that this late-17th century genre married speech to song. And the text of the libretto, which was published before Purcell's work, is a guide to the musical restoration of the score, which was scattered across many different and often-doubtful sources. Written to make the 25th anniversary of the coronation of Charles II, the work tells the story of the mythical birth of the Kingdom of England. The theatrical intuition and musical intelligence of Paul McCreesh's group, which are the fruit of a long apprenticeship in this repertoire, have given birth to a new and very accomplished version of King Arthur, which brings a new level of coherence to the work. The masque, this English total spectacle, characteristic of courtly entertainments, certainly deserved the sustained attention of veteran musicians. The aria Hither This Way (Act II) by soprano Carolyn Sampson as the sprite Philadel is filled with a delicious malice. And bass-baritone Ashley Riches's Cold Genius is filled with a breathtaking humanity. Don't delay: hear it today! © Elsa Siffert/Qobuz
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Classical - Released September 1, 1979 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
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Classical - Released October 12, 2018 | Alpha

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In a recital of songs and instrumental dances, countertenor Tim Mead and Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien, under the direction of François Lazarevitch, present a varied and well-rounded portrait of Henry Purcell, the Baroque genius who was nicknamed the "English Orpheus." For this 2018 Alpha release, Mead and Lazarevitch provide idiomatic and historically informed interpretations that offer a seemingly improvisational but precisely notated approach, both in the profuse ornamentation in the vocal part and the florid repartée of the mixed consort. The ensemble consists of recorders, oboes, bassoon, and strings, with a basso continuo of viol da gamba and harpsichord, and the addition of harp and cittern lend the music a Celtic flavor. The theatrical aspect of the songs is conveyed in Mead's virtuosic and intensely focused singing, which is well supported and full sounding, and his voice seems quite robust and far from breathy. The energetic playing of Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien keeps the program engaging and fresh, even in the most familiar pieces, such as the Pavan in G minor, the Fantazia upon a Ground, and the Chaconne from The Fairy Queen, which all display vigorous rhythms, distinct parts, and elaborate filigree. Yet Mead's performance is central to the success of this album, emphasizing the dramatic and highly expressive nature of Purcell's songs, reminding the listener that they originated on the stage. Sample Fairest Isle from the semi-opera King Arthur, one of Purcell's best-loved songs and perhaps the most affecting track of the program. © TiVo
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Classical - Released November 17, 2008 | Alpha

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It's difficult to know where to begin enumerating the qualities that make this astonishing performance of Dido and Aeneas unique. The most obvious is geographical: the recording was made at the Opera Theatre of Novosibirsk, Siberia. The chorus is the New Siberian Singers and the early music ensemble Musica Aeterna, is based in Novosibirsk, and most of the secondary parts are taken by Russian singers. Otherwise, the cast is international; Simone Kermes (Dido) is German, Deborah York (Belinda) is British, and Dimitris Tiliakos (Aeneas) and conductor Teodor Currentzis are Greek, although Currentzis has been based in Russia since 1994 and has been at the Novosibirsk Opera since 2004. The performance itself challenges much of the conventional wisdom about the opera; it is so daringly idiosyncratic that if it didn't work brilliantly, it might be dismissed as an eccentric exercise in interpretive hubris. To begin with, the performance practice sounds more Continental than English in its execution of dotted rhythms, instrumentation, style of ornamentation, and extreme tempo choices. Currentzis treats the score with a latitude not usually brought to Purcell, as a framework open to, and even requiring, extensive elaboration from the performers. For instance, he supplements Purcell's string and continuo orchestra with theorbo, guitar, lute, viola da gamba, and percussion; he repeats some movements and even adds instrumental interludes based on the existing vocal material. Currentzis' tempos tend to be extreme -- the fast are very fast and the slow are very slow -- but his choices never seem capricious or arbitrary; they make musical and dramatic sense, and heighten the emotional impact of the opera in a way that sounds natural and spontaneous. His use of dynamics is likewise out of the ordinary. Dido's monologue at the opening of the opera and her lament at the end are sung in a grief-stricken pianissimo. It's a marvel that Kermes can sing with such purity, control, intensity, and expressiveness at a level that rarely rises above a whisper. Even her final "Remember me," which most sopranos take as an opportunity to cut loose, is rendered as the hushed last request of a woman who is close to death. Kermes brings a striking power to the moments that call for it, however, as in her contemptuous dismissal of Aeneas. As Belinda, York sings with a clear, bright tone and infectious energy. Aeneas is not a role that offers much of an opportunity to shine, but Tiliakos makes the most of it. The New Siberian Singers and Musica Aeterna, both of which Currentzis founded, respond to his demands with performances of stunning virtuosity and intensity. This outside-the-box performance should be of interest to any fan of Dido and Aeneas, and might make converts of listeners who think of Baroque opera as quaint and stuffy. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 1979 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released September 3, 2015 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica - Choc Classica de l'année
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Classical - Released April 15, 2008 | Alia Vox

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Classical - Released January 1, 1978 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released October 9, 2020 | Warner Classics

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Classical - Released January 1, 1992 | Archiv Produktion

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Classical - Released September 23, 2010 | Ambronay Éditions

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In the program notes for this recording of Dido and Aeneas, conductor Leonardo García Alarcón makes a persuasive scholarly and analytical case for his many unconventional performance choices, but listeners should be forewarned that this is not a version of the opera for the faint of heart or for committed traditionalists. Most noticeably, this performance, which features the Geneva-based ensembles La Nouvelle Ménestrandie and Cappella Mediterranea, makes Dido and Aeneas seem like a very big opera, something on the order of Il Trovatore in its wrenching intensity, if not in its length. Alarcón's augmentation of the orchestra with oboes and bassoons doubling the strings in some places, as he argues Purcell would have done, is partly accountable for its enlarged sense of scale. Equally significant is the ferocity with which both the singers and players tear into their parts and the extremity of some of the characterizations. Dido and the Sorceress, for instance, express their anguish and hatred, respectively, by bending pitches to a degree rarely heard in "classical" music settings, and the Witches sing in creaky, crone-like character voices. It should be remembered that "baroque" was originally a term of derision meaning something misshapen or distorted, the equivalent of wagging the finger and saying, "you've gone too far this time!" That may be exactly the reaction of some listeners, but whether you're appalled or beguiled, this is a Dido and Aeneas that's likely to keep you on the edge of your seat with suspense. Few performances of the opera have so clearly delineated its arch-shaped trajectory; it opens with Dido lamenting the possibility of Aeneas' inconstancy and ends with her lamenting its actuality, and in this recording just about everything that transpires between the laments happens at a fever pitch of musical and dramatic tension. The fact that Alarcón is able to create and sustain the performance's intensity is a testimony not only to his vision and skill but to the willingness of the musicians to throw themselves so wholeheartedly into the venture. Every role, even the smallest, demonstrates the singers' investment in their parts. They all sing beautifully and powerfully, and manage to convey a verismo-like theatricality while operating (more or less) within the bounds of accepted Baroque performance practice. Aeneas can easily come across as a cipher, but Alejandro Meerapfel gives him substance, someone about whom the Queen of Carthage could believably get worked up. Countertenor Fabián Schofrin is a weird, sinister Sorceress. As Belinda, Yeree Suh sings with exceptional warmth, clarity, and sweetness. Solenn' Lavanant Linke's soprano is sumptuous and creamy, and she makes a regal but womanly Dido. The orchestra plays with aching expressivity and the continuo realizations are marvelously inventive. The recording is vividly present and is miked at a high level for a classical album, which also contributes to its unusually large sense of scale. Highly recommended. © TiVo
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Classical - Released July 31, 2007 | harmonia mundi

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Full Operas - Released January 27, 2009 | Chandos

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Classical - Released November 6, 2008 | Alpha

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Classical - Released September 4, 2020 | Coro

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Purcell’s genius abounds throughout the latest volume of The Sixteen’s celebrated exploration of his music for monarchy. Rarely recorded in recent years, Harry Christophers and his award-winning ensemble breathe fresh life into these exquisite works, including two Welcome Songs and one of Purcell’s most famous verse anthems, Rejoice in the Lord alway. © Coro
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Classical - Released April 8, 2013 | Brilliant Classics

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Classical - Released July 14, 2014 | harmonia mundi

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Sacred Vocal Music - Released February 21, 2012 | Aparté

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