The semi-operas of Henry Purcell have been increasingly recorded, more or less in their entirety, though their best-known numbers appear more frequently in instrumental suites, as they do on this 2019 release on Deutsche Harmonia Mundi by Lorenzo Ghirlanda and his period ensemble, Vox Orchester. Less familiar are the stage works of Matthew Locke, who knew Purcell and influenced him, and who was one of the contributors to the early development of opera in England. While Locke's theater music is not as widely performed as his anthems and motets, and is under-represented on CD, Ghirlanda has included a suite of dances and airs composed for The Tempest, at least for the sake of comparison with Purcell's more substantial body of work. The performances are decidedly brisk and rhythmically precise, and the excitement of the orchestra is apparent in its energetic playing. The selections from King Arthur, Dioclesian, and The Fairy Queen have been anthologized in many Baroque collections, so the occasional trumpet tune or gigue will be recognized by anyone who dabbles in Purcell, though listeners may want to try Locke's incidental music first, to avoid any bias.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|King Arthur, Z. 628|
|Dioclesian, Z. 627|
|The Fairy Queen, Z. 629|