Purcell - King Arthur | Alpha ALPHA430

Purcell - King Arthur


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Label: Alpha

Cat No: ALPHA430

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 2

Genre: Opera

Release Date: 16th November 2018

Gramophone Editor's Choice



Vox Luminis


Lionel Meunier


Purcell, Henry

King Arthur (The British Worthy), Z628


Vox Luminis


Lionel Meunier


Vox Luminis already boasts an impressive discography, orientated mainly towards sacred music and German repertoire (its CD devoted to music by Heinrich Schütz won the Gramophone ‘Best Recording of the Year’ Award in 2013). Now this ensemble, founded nearly fifteen years ago by Lionel Meunier, has scaled one of the summits of English music: the legend of King Arthur and his mentor the wizard Merlin inspired one of Henry Purcell’s most popular successes, King Arthur, a semi-opera on which Purcell lavished all his exuberant musical and theatrical inventiveness.

In this revelatory new reading, the Vox Luminis vocal sound always perfectly matches the mix of choruses and highly characterized vocal solos. Prior to recording, the group presented the work in many semi-staged concerts, notably in Britain, where this Franco-Belgian ensemble has enjoyed enormous success, becoming one of the most respected European ambassadors for baroque music-making.


[Vox Luminis's] performance of King Arthur ... is delightfully fresh and subtle in its musicianship. By and large English performers prefer a more rumbustious take on Purcell, but [Lionel] Meunier’s lighter touch is well judged. Some other recordings feature more obviously starry singers, but Vox Luminis fields a likeable array of mostly light, period voices, who live up to the enchantment of their setting.
Financial Times February 2019
This King Arthur is a giddy triumph for its artists. Blazing their way through the score, the performers set a new benchmark, delivering a pruction that’s equally gutsy and gorgeous. ... Dance meters swing, and grand choruses are crisp and alluring. ... Director Lionel Meunier is the real star, with a soaring vision of Purcell’s music in a class of its own.  Berta Joncus (Opera Choice)
BBC Music Magazine February 2019
Vox Luminis, directed with a light touch by bass Lionel Meunier, turn their egalitarian talents to King Arthur (1691) and harvest the fruits of Purcell and Dryden’s collaborative imagination with affectionate lucidity. The band never sounds as small as it actually is – the single strings led adroitly by Cecilia Bernardini are underpinned by a bass violin (rather than cello) and there is no double bass, according to scholarly thinking about Purcell’s likely practices. ... The Frost scene in Act 3 has icy scraping from the violins to accompany the awakening of Sebastian Myrus’s precise Cold Genius (every shivering note in the right place); possessing a vivid vibrato, Sophie Junker’s swooping Cupid has a whiff of mischief as master of ceremonies; the arrival of the frosty chorus in need of love to warm them up is slower than Purcell probably intended but its characterisation aptly shows them ‘qui’vring with cold’. ... it has been decades since a recording of any of Purcell’s operas as enjoyable as this.  David Vickers
Gramophone February 2019

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