Purcell’s King Arthur is a problematic work. It was originally written as a sort of praise poem for Charles II showing the inevitable ascent to glory of the Stuarts from earliest days. Unfortunately Charles died and his brother lost his job before the piece could be given. The staunchly Protestant court of William and Mary wasn’t much in favour of a celebration of crypto-Catholic Charles by openly Catholic Dryden and it wasn’t until Dryden and Purcell needed a new commercial project that it reemerged with various cuts, insertions and reworkings to get it past the censorship. No reliable record exists of what was actually performed in that first commercial run so for their new CD release Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Consort have used a mixture of considerable erudition plus impressive musical nous to reconstruct something that is plausibly like what audiences in the 1690s might have heard.
King Arthur recreated