The performance

Continuing its internationally-acclaimed exploration of Purcell’s dramatic masterpieces, the New London Consort returned to Manchester, Birmingham and Paris in March 2012 and May 2013 with a unique and iconoclastic version of King Arthur.

Celebrating the triumph of good over evil and conjuring up all the glories and mysteries of Arthur's enchanted Island Realm, Purcell and Merlin the magician together tell a gripping tale of love, battles, betrayal and abduction, sorcery and the supernatural, all set in a time of war between Saxons and Britons.

With a colourful orchestra of baroque trumpets, drums, oboes, bassoon, recorders, strings, English theorbo and harpsichord, Purcell’s vibrant score contains some of his most evocative, characterful and famous music, including the incredible Frost Scene.

Pagans sacrifice, Warriors triumph, Spirits enchant, Nymphs and Shepherds pipe and dance, the Cold Genius shivers, naked Sirens seduce, Venus sings Fairest Isle and Comus & his crew bawl out their Harvest Home.

With narration by Merlin and magical lighting effects by master shinemonger Ace McCarron.


concertclassic.com Paris Cité de la Musique March 2012
Following their performance of The Fairy Queen in 2011, the New London Consort returned to the Cité de la Musique with a concert version of King Arthur eagerly awaited by all the Purcellians of Paris. Despite being presented as a concert version, this performance was filled with drama. In the famous Frost scene, with its shivering chromatisms, this impeccable ensemble created a fantastic and surreal musical landscape of stunning intensity. For its sheer power of suggestion this King Arthur will feature among our best memories of the past season at the Cité de la Musique - for a truly enjoyable narration delivered in character by Oliver Cotton’s Merlin (an exquisitely British chronicler of a complex plot), but above all for the melodious and rhetorical skills of the faultless cast – from Joanne Lunn (in turn a Priestess, Cupid, and a sumptuous Venus) to Faye Newton, Anna Dennis, Penelope Appleyard, Joseph Cornwell, Simon Grant, Benjamin Bevan, Michael George (Cold Genius) and other valliant cantors, whose contributions made this evening such a delectable homage to the glory of the British Orpheus.

The Guardian Manchester The Bridgewater Hall March 2012
[The NLC] unearthed a wealth of drama within the music - producing vivid tone painting everywhere, from the sensuous ripple that accompanied a pair of sirens bathing in a stream, to the violent rasps punctuating a scene of pagan sacrifice that sounded as close as a consort might come to shouting "off with their heads". Michael George induced genuine chills in the role of the Cold Genius, and there was a hilarious drunken morris dance to round things off. The high point, however, was Joanne Lunn's sublime singing of Fairest Isle, Purcell's enduring hit number and a clear contender for baroque national anthem.

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