François Lazarevitch / Tim Mead / Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien

Purcell: Songs & Dances

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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.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Amphitryon, Z.572
1 3:44
Come Ye Sons of Art (Birthday Ode for Queen Mary), Z.323/5
2 3:40
3 5:21
4 4:38
Ode for St. Cecilia's Day, Z.339
5 4:22
The Old Bachelor, Z.607
6 2:16
7 3:11
King Arthur, Z. 628
8 4:19
King Arthur, Z.628
9 2:46
The Virtuous Wife, Z.611
10 1:10
11 3:14
Amphitryon, Z.572
12 2:05
If Ever I More Riches Did Desire, Cantata, Z.544
13 3:04
14 4:46
Ode for St. Cecilia's Day, Z.328
15 4:49
The Married Beau, Z.603
16 1:30
Timon of Athen, Z.632
17 4:19
The Indian Queen, Z.630
18 1:42
The Fairy Queen, Z.629
19 2:15
20 2:48
blue highlight denotes track pick