The Indian Queen was one of Henry Purcell's final works and may in fact have been left unfinished at his death. Defining the state of the text is complicated by the fact that the work is a so-called semi-opera, a defunct form that mixed spoken dialogue, singing, and dance; the function of the surviving music isn't always totally clear. For those reasons, the work hasn't often been recorded. Many of the individual numbers are splendid examples of Purcell's style, with his sparkling ensemble dances and exuberantly rhythmic major-key tunes that seem to shake off dour minor introductory sections. The concluding work by Daniel Purcell, The Masque of Hymen, may have been written as a finale to the unfinished Henry Purcell work, which is based on a poem by John Dryden and set in colonial Latin America (not that there's any reflection of that in either the music or the lyric style). The Sixteen and conductor Harry Christophers do not really specialize in opera, and the soloists are not brilliant. But the small scale of the production is suitable for the work, and Christophers has the right kind of zip for Purcell. This isn't a lost Purcell masterpiece with the gravity and unity of Dido and Aeneas, but the album will be welcomed by Purcell lovers.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|The Indian Queen|
|The Masque of Hymen|