Vox Luminis / Lionel Meunier

Purcell: King Arthur

  • AllMusic Rating
    10
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

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.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
King Arthur Or the British Worthy, Z.628
1 2:31
2 1:15
3 2:36
4 1:26
5 2:19
6 1:18
7 0:44
8 2:54
9 2:01
10 3:08
11 1:11
12 2:11
13 1:13
14 0:37
15 2:17
16 4:52
17 1:53
18 0:44
19 0:41
20 1:57
21 0:26
22 1:06
23 2:56
24 0:52
25 1:00
26 1:06
27 0:55
28 1:48
29 2:01
30 1:48
31 2:24
32 1:24
33 0:34
34 1:14
blue highlight denotes track pick