|The Gabrieli Consort : photo Andy Staples|
A new edition of Henry Purcell's King Arthur by Paul McCreesh and Christopher Suckling from the Gabrieli Consort and Players. "The editorial problems are many", writes Claire Seymout in Opera Today. "There is no manuscript of Dryden’s 1684 libretto and no reliable source for Purcell’s music: scholar Curtis Price has noted that instead we face ‘a confused assortment of more than sixty manuscripts and miscellaneous publications, none of which includes the complete music’.
When no music exists for songs which are printed in Dryden’s text, we cannot know if Purcell’s music is sadly lost or if he chose not set the lines in question......
....;This new edition reflects their evolving interpretation and performance practice. Some text has been repositioned or. reworked; musical insertions have been made, in some places in response to gaps or ambiguities in the original sources, elsewhere to compensate for the absence of the spoken dialogue, or to provide fitting conclusions tthe acts and masques. Inconsistencies in the various manuscripts have been considered as performance, rather than ‘scholarly’, issues: McCreesh explains that ‘Our singers, like Purcell’s, would naturally grace their lines with rhythmic alterations and melodic extemporisations’, thereby rendering the question of which textual variant is ‘correct’ moot. Having examined contemporary sources, the decision was made to perform choruses and dances without continuo; the songs are accompanied by harpsichord, theorbo and guitar, without a string bass line." Please read the full, detailed review of the Gabrielli Consort's concert at St John's, Smith Square in Opera Today.
I've been enjoying the CD and it really is as good as the review says ! Highly recommended !