Myth illustrated with music: Purcell’s King Arthur at the Aldeburgh Festival

English semi-opera is a strange beast: a story broken up and illustrated by music. Once you settle into it, the shuttling rhythm between music and story is surprisingly and undeniably charming, constantly provoking the imagination and beguiling the ear by turns. Vox Luminis’ residency at this year’s Aldeburgh Festival, having begun with Bach and moved on to a mixed programme of Tallis, Byrd, White, Morley, Purcell and Britten, culminated in an infectiously joyous King Arthur, directed with skill by Vox Luminis’ own Lionel Meunier. As the singers’ warm vocal colours explored the richness of Snape’s acoustic, in an atmosphere of gloriously secure, skilful musicianship (with some musicians playing several different period instruments), the genre-busting strangeness of it all just added to the fun.

Click here to read my full review on Bachtrack.

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Arthur and Emmeline cropped

Arthur and Emmeline, print by Peltro William Tompkins after Charles Ansell, 1787, now in the British Museum

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