An outstanding new recording from The King’s Consort brings together a world-class vocal and instrumental ensemble in a glorious programme of three of Purcell’s finest Royal Odes.
For more than three decades The King’s Consort has been renowned across the globe for its performances of the music of Henry Purcell. In 1988, Robert King’s ensemble recorded its first disc of Purcell’s odes: that ground-breaking series of the complete odes (most of them at that time largely unknown) was followed by similar series of the sacred music and the secular songs, and changed the musical world’s perception of Purcell. Since then there has been hardly a year in which the odes haven’t appeared in TKC’s concert programmes: this is music which runs through the ensemble’s veins.
Spanning almost the whole of his period as an established composer, Purcell’s odes show him at his finest. A glorious succession of overtures, choruses, arias and delicious ritornelli display astonishing imagination and ingenuity: yet never far beneath the surface lies the sense of melancholy, of fading glory, that is the hallmark of Purcell’s greatest music.
During the pandemic lockdown of Autumn 2020, thirty-two years after their first Purcell recording, TKC returned to the studio to record three substantial odes: two written for Queen Mary, and one for King James II. An outstanding team of soloists (led by Carolyn Sampson, Iestyn Davies, Charles Daniels and Matthew Brook) included one member of the ensemble who took part in that first recording, alongside others who have been performing these works with TKC for twenty years. On the other hand, three of 2020’s singers were not even born when TKC recorded that first disc. A superlative instrumental ensemble provides equally outstanding contributions.
The recording was made in the spacious surroundings of the recently restored Fairfield Halls, Croydon, whose warm, clear acoustic is perfect for this music. Extensive presentation includes a 48 page booklet with substantial liner notes in three languages, together with full texts and session photos.