Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Henry Purcell, William Christie, Les Arts Florissants|
Purcell - King Arthur / Gens, McFadden, Piau, S. Waters, J. Best, Padmore, Paton, Salomaa, Les Arts Florissants, Christie
Genres: Pop, Classical
The Fairy Queen may be the most famous of Purcell's "semi-operas" (spoken dramas with extended musical items incorporated--not to say dropped in), but King Arthur, with text by John Dryden, is undoubtedly the most satisf... more »
Amazon.com essential recording
The Fairy Queen may be the most famous of Purcell's "semi-operas" (spoken dramas with extended musical items incorporated--not to say dropped in), but King Arthur, with text by John Dryden, is undoubtedly the most satisfying. Not only is the music captivating on its own terms, it's unusually well-integrated into the action--for example, one musical scene depicts the heathen Saxons performing a pre- battle ceremony; another shows good spirits guiding King Arthur and his men through a dark swamp while evil spirits try to mislead them. The first three acts have a lot of vivid battle and pastoral music, but the real goodies come on the second disc: the first duet of Act IV, in which seductive sirens Sandrine Piau and Claron McFadden attempt to lure Arthur into a stream ("come, come naked in, for we are so..."), and the masque in Act V in honor of Britannia, which includes (in addition to winning music) a Chamber-of-Commerce-like paean to British products such as fish, wool, and wheat, a rowdy drinking song with some pointed anticlerical sentiment, and the famous song "Fairest isle" (beguilingly sung by Véronique Gens). The multinational cast handles the English text well; other standouts include the marvelous tenor Mark Padmore and bass Petteri Salomaa. This recording was prepared right after Graham Vick's wildly successful production of the full Dryden/Purcell text at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris (the booklet has some impressive photos); not surprisingly, the performances have an extroverted theatrical energy usually missing from concert versions of this music. --Matthew Westphal
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One of the best baroque performances on disc
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As with many other Les Arts Florissants recordings, this one followed a live production, and it shows: the vocal and orchestral characterization of the music is all the more expressive and meaningful. King Arthur, like most other Purcell's "operas," is a combination of spoken drama and "incidental music" to accompany it. Les Arts Florissants presented the entire four-hour spectacle on stage, but committed to disc only the musical part. Yet, even without the spoken word, every scene feels complete. Especially memorable are the scene of sacrifice in the first act, the famous scene of the Cold Genius (wonderfully sung by Petteri Salomaa); and the succession of vocal numbers in the fifth act, including "The Fairest Isle" (in which Veronique Gens simply shines) and the incredible ATB trio "For Folded Flocks" (Padmore, Paton, Best). Incidentally, here as elsewhere, Christie adopts a lower pitch of a' 392 Hz in order to enable high tenors (hautes-contre) to sing alto parts. This has become Christie's signature practice, and it is perfectly borne out by the latest scientific research into authentic baroque performance methods. This recording won a major Gramophone award in 1995, a very deserved recognition of excellence!"
Possibly the best recording of a Baroque opera on CD
Steven Guy | Croydon, South Australia | 09/30/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There is a marvellous sense of energy and joy which comes from this recording. I have the Pinnock recording of King Arthur and I used to have the Gardiner recording (it was stolen from me). I enjoy many things in all the recordings of this work, but Les Arts Florissants's recording is very special. I sang in a performance of this work two years ago and I played both the Pinnock and Christie recordings to my fellow chorus members and all agreed that the Christie recording is just brilliant in every way.
The cast of this recording is superb, all the usual LAF suspects are here - Véronique Gens, Claron McFadden, Sandrine Piau, Mark Padmore, Petteri Salomaa and others - and the orchestra and chorus are in top form.
Needless to say, there is some irony in this work, in that the music is very French in its form, structure and effects - the Cold Genius aria was plagiarised from one of Lully's operas! The opera is, of course, a semi-opera and would have included a considerable amount of spoken dialogue. However, the music Purcell composed for King Arthur or The British Worthy is in a class of its own. Only his French contemporaries Marc-Antoine Charpentier and André Campra penned music of the same quality.
I highly recommend this beautiful and exciting recording to all music lovers."
Don't miss this!
Steven Guy | 04/04/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Per Gramophone, this recording is one of the 75 best opera recordings of all time. I couldn't agree more. Bravo, William Christie. At least one other recording by Christie is also on this list (I didn't check, maybe there are more): Charpentier Medee."