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Though this recording was made live in Italy (at the Ravenna Festival), Accademia Bizantina’s director, Ottavio Dantone, wisely used Anglophone singers and chorus for his account of Purcell’s great semi-opera. The form was peculiar to England: a spoken drama (here a version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream) interspersed with substantial, masque- like musical interludes. Only the latter are heard here, presented with character and sensitivity, and with an unusually strong solo line-up consisting of sopranos Carolyn Sampson, Gillian Keith and Rebecca Outram, countertenor William Towers, tenors Andrew Carwood and Robert Murray, and bass Michael Bundy, aided and abetted by the New English Voices. Accademia Bizantina adds its own vivid instrumental colours to the rich mix, and though the sound is a shade enclosed and the acoustic lacks optimal clarity from a musical point of view, the results are delightful.

George Hall Read the full review on Agora Classica


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