Purcell: King Arthur / Meunier, Vox Luminis
Vox Luminis already boasts an impressive discography, orientated mainly towards sacred music and German repertoire (its album 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.
This King Arthur is a giddy triumph for its artists. Blazing their way through the score, the performers set a new benchmark, delivering a production that’s equally gutsy and gorgeous. Dance meters swing, and grand choruses are crisp and alluring. Amorous ensembles ooze passion, with guest soprano Sophie Junker irresistible as Cupid. Director Lionel Meunier is the real star, with a soaring vision of Purcell’s music in a class of its own.
– BBC Music Magazine
Vox Luminis harvest the fruits of Purcell and Dryden’s collaborative imagination with affectionate lucidity. The band never sounds as small as it actually is. The playing has admirable finesse. The Saxons’ heathen sacrifices in Act 1 flow with unerring pacing and harmonic shaping. It has been decades since a recording of any of Purcell’s operas has been as enjoyable as this.
Catalog Number: ALPHA430
Composer: Henry Purcell
Conductor: Lionel Meunier
Orchestra/Ensemble: Vox Luminis
Performer: Caroline Weynants, Marcus Farnsworth, Olivier Berten, Robert Buckland, Sophie Junker, Stefanie True, Zsuzsi Toth