Colin Clarke

Purcell: The Fairy Queen

8:00, 22nd November 2017

Les Nouveaux Caractères, Sébastien d’Hérin (hc)
Glossa GCD 922712 2

In 2016, the Academy of Ancient Music The Fairy Queen memorably at the Barbican; no easy task, given the piece is essentially a procession of masques, not an opera. Purcell’s 1692 score is actually a succession of musical jewels, arguably best enjoyed on a recording such as this.

Caroline Mutel and Guillaume Andrieux sound a touch careful in the opening duet; in contrast, Kevin Greenlaw is a magnificently drunk-as-a-lord poet. The performance is generally highly polished, the English pronunciation excellent. In the final act great Plaint, ‘O let me weep,’ Mutel is superb.

The high tenor duet, ‘Let the pipes and the clarions’, is tastefully delivered by Anders Dahlin and Samuel Boden, answered by raucous drums and brass. When required, Sébastien d’Hérin allows Purcell’s masterly use of the Ground to unfold powerfully. Well recorded, this is, in the very best sense of the word, given the subject matter, enchanting.

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