Christopher Purves

Baritone

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Handel: Saul

Handel: Saul

Recorded live at Glyndebourne Opera House, Lewes, October 2015.


Christopher Purves (Saul), Iestyn Davies (David), Lucy Crowe (Merab), Sophie Bevan (Michal), Paul Appleby (Jonathan), Benjamin Hulett (High Priest) & John Graham-Hall (Witch of Endor)

The Glyndebourne Chorus & Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Ivor Bolton (conductor) & Barrie Kosky (director)

Read our exclusive interview with Christopher Purves here.

Glyndebourne’s Saul stole the summer and had critics raving. The Guardian (****) applauded ‘virtuoso stagecraft’ from director Barrie Kosky in his debut production there, calling the show ‘a theatrical and musical feast of energetic choruses, surreal choreography and gorgeous singing’. For The Independent, which ranked it amongst five top classical and opera performances of 2015, there was ‘no praise too high’ for the cast. The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under Ivor Bolton sparkles from the pit with period panache, and designer Katrin Lea Tag’s ‘exuberant costumes’ (The Times ****) set the Old Testament story in Handel’s time, with a witty twinge of the contemporary.

Running time: 185 minutes

Subtitles: EN/FR/DE/KO

Sound format: 2.0LPCM + 5.1(5.0) DTS

Extra Features: A Descent Into Madness and a Cast Gallery.

“Pivotal is Christopher Purves’s Saul – surely the father-in-law from hell should the Goliath-slaying David choose his daughter Michal (or son Jonathan – tenderly sung by Paul Appleby). Purves has always done rage and menace to the manner born, but his slide into ever-deepening madness is terrifying…his is a tour de force to rival the diametrically opposed inscrutable calm that is Iestyn Davies’s David…taut musical direction from Ivor Bolton consolidates a Glyndebourne bullseye” BBC Music Magazine, September 2016 ****

“energetic, highly coloured entertainment” Financial Times, June 2016

“Christopher Purves is utterly consumed by his role as Saul...Iestyn Davies is vocally outstanding as David, with his customary melting melismas.” Opera, January 2017

“A recording that picks up just about as much glamour and nuance as is it is possible to convey using the comparatively limited focus of cameras.” MusicWeb International, 4th January 2017

Presto Discs of 2016

Finalist

DVD Video

Region: 0

Format: NTSC

Up to 70% off Opus Arte

Opus Arte Glyndebourne - OA1216D

(DVD Video)

Normally: $28.00

Special: $22.40

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Handel: Saul

Handel: Saul

Recorded live at Glyndebourne Opera House, Lewes, October 2015.


Christopher Purves (Saul), Iestyn Davies (David), Lucy Crowe (Merab), Sophie Bevan (Michal), Paul Appleby (Jonathan), Benjamin Hulett (High Priest) & John Graham-Hall (Witch of Endor)

The Glyndebourne Chorus & Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Ivor Bolton (conductor) & Barrie Kosky (director)

Read our exclusive interview with Christopher Purves here.

Glyndebourne’s Saul stole the summer and had critics raving. The Guardian (****) applauded ‘virtuoso stagecraft’ from director Barrie Kosky in his debut production there, calling the show ‘a theatrical and musical feast of energetic choruses, surreal choreography and gorgeous singing’. For The Independent, which ranked it amongst five top classical and opera performances of 2015, there was ‘no praise too high’ for the cast. The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under Ivor Bolton sparkles from the pit with period panache, and designer Katrin Lea Tag’s ‘exuberant costumes’ (The Times ****) set the Old Testament story in Handel’s time, with a witty twinge of the contemporary.

Running time: 185 minutes

Subtitles: EN/FR/DE/KO

Sound format: 2.0LPCM + 5.1(5.0) DTS

Extra Features: A Descent Into Madness, Colour and Texture - An Musical Insight and a Cast Gallery.

“Pivotal is Christopher Purves’s Saul – surely the father-in-law from hell should the Goliath-slaying David choose his daughter Michal (or son Jonathan – tenderly sung by Paul Appleby). Purves has always done rage and menace to the manner born, but his slide into ever-deepening madness is terrifying…his is a tour de force to rival the diametrically opposed inscrutable calm that is Iestyn Davies’s David…taut musical direction from Ivor Bolton consolidates a Glyndebourne bullseye” BBC Music Magazine, September 2016 ****

“energetic, highly coloured entertainment” Financial Times, June 2016

“Christopher Purves is utterly consumed by his role as Saul...Iestyn Davies is vocally outstanding as David, with his customary melting melismas.” Opera, January 2017

Presto Discs of 2016

Finalist

Blu-ray Disc

Region: all

Up to 70% off Opus Arte

Opus Arte Glyndebourne - OABD7205D

(Blu-ray)

Normally: $33.75

Special: $27.00

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Handel: Messiah

Handel: Messiah


Lucy Crowe (soprano), Tim Mead (counter-tenor), Andrew Staples (tenor), Christopher Purves (baritone)

Le Concert d’Astrée Orchestre et Chœur, Emmanuelle Haïm

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

Emmanuelle Haïm has established herself as one of the world’s leading performers, conductors and interpreters of Baroque repertoire, not only with Le Concert d’Astrée, the ensemble she founded in 2000, but with several of the world’s greatest orchestras. Known for her fresh and expressive approach to Baroque music, she has appeared as a guest conductor with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the Berliner Philharmoniker. With her own ensemble she has garnered critical acclaim and several international awards, including Victoires de la Musique Classique, ECHOs, Gramophone Awards, and Grammy nominations.

For this English-language recording of Handel’s masterwork Messiah, Haïm is joined by the orchestra and chorus of Le Concert d’Astrée, as well as four outstanding English singers – Lucy Crowe, Tim Mead, Andrew Staples and Christopher Purves.

“The choir and orchestra of Le Concert d’Astrée trot along with the trim rhythms now customary in “authentic” performances of Handel. Occasionally they slice their notes too abruptly for comfort...Among the soloists, Lucy Crowe and Christopher Purves are the most consistently pleasurable.” The Times, 28th November 2014 ***

“The soloists rise to Haïm’s challenge in fine style; all show great flexibility in adapting their voices to expressing a far wider range of emotions than Messiah is normally thought to involve...This is definitely a Messiah worth listening to; lively and varied, it really is a new injection of life into an old favourite work and a recording that can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with any of the existing benchmarks.” David Smith, Presto Classical, 8th December 2014

“The delivery of the choruses is crisply focused and shaped impressively, Haïm sensibly opts to hire top-notch English freelancers...There are a small number of occasions when Haïm could have let the music speak more naturally for itself...Nevertheless, the fusion of dramatic mood, orchestral texture and an inspired soloist often pays off handsomely.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2014

“the vocal ornamentation, as sung by the outstanding solo quartet...sounds entirely stylish and idiomatic...Haïm’s choir for this work, too, comprises mainly native English-speakers, and it shows in their trenchant diction. Their Hallelujah is magnificent...One of the most dramatic and exciting Messiahs in recent memory.” Sunday Times, 14th December 2014

“Haïm directs the music with the same sort of Gallic lightness and grace that she absorbed during her early years with the French group Les Arts Florissants...The result is not as exhilarating as some, and sometimes a touch fussy, but Haïm finds expression wherever she looks and Le Concert d’Astrée respond keenly.” Financial Times, 20th December 2014 ***

“Haïm herself proves broadly sensitive to tempo...and balance has been excellently managed in what is a resonant acoustic. Le Concert d’Astrée's chorus numbers 20...they also keep light on their collective feet. The 26-strong orchestra, too, supplies vitality as well as solemnity and flexibility.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2015 ****

Presto Disc of the Week

8th December 2014

Erato - 2564624055

(CD - 2 discs)

$14.50

(also available to download from $12.00)

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Handel: Finest Arias for Base Voice

Handel: Finest Arias for Base Voice


Handel:

Sibilar gl'angui d'Aletto (from Rinaldo)

Fra l’ombre e gl’orrori (from Aci, Galatea e Polifemo)

I rage, I melt, I burn…O ruddier than the cherry (from Acis and Galatea)

L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato: If I give thee honour due

L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato: Mirth, admit me of thy crew

La Resurrezione: Qual'insolita luce

La Resurrezione: Caddi, è ver

Deborah: Tears, such as tender fathers shed

Belshazzar: To pow'r immortal my first thanks are due

Impari ognun da Orlando (from Orlando)

Sorge infausta una procella (from Orlando)

Theodora, HWV 68: Racks, gibbets, sword and fire

Muzio Scevola, HWV13: Volate più dei venti

Vieni, o cara (from Agrippina)

Nel mondo e nell'abisso (from Riccardo Primo)

Mie piante, correte from Apollo e Dafne, HWV 122

Apollo e Dafne: Cara pianta

Alexander's Feast: Revenge, revenge, Timotheus cries

Semele: Leave me, loathsome light


‘With his acting chops and weighty bass-baritone, Purves in full cry is a splendid and fearful spectacle’ (The Times)

The magnificent Christopher Purves performs a recital of Handel’s bass arias. This unique collection demonstrates the range and brilliance of Handel’s writing for this voice, featuring a selection from Italian and English operas, English classical drama, Biblical oratorios, literary odes and a masque. Handel’s endlessly imaginative gift for characterization is fully explored here, with Purves commanding an extraordinary emotional and technical range from the buffo blustering of Polyphemus in Acis and Gatalea to the loving musings of Abinoam in ‘Tears, such as tender fathers shed’ from the oratorio Deborah.

“Possessing in effect two voices in one - a ringing, incisive high baritone with a sonorous bass extension...Purves's flair for specific characterisation enlivens every number on the disc...A counter...to the cliched notion that [Handel's] bass arias are all undifferentiated bluster.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2013

“Purves is a fine vocal actor, and we're continuously aware of the variety of Handel's style and the sharpness of his characterisation. The great moments are those in which the singing reveals the depths of Handel's psychological insight, above all in a scene from Aci, Galatea e Polifemo, in which the monster Polifemo is suddenly shown to have immense nobility of soul.” The Guardian, 10th January 2013 ****

“Purves’ voice has a noble timbre and is informed by the keenest intelligence” Financial Times, 19th January 2013

“one to treasure both for the sensitive and well-sustained singing of Christopher Purves and for the wonderfully wide expressive range of Handel's music...Purves has an acute ear, serving well his intonation and lively feeling for characterisation...The pleasure of single-voice recitals can sometimes be tempered by repetitive mannerisms or exaggerated gestures. Purves avoids both, ensuring enjoyment” BBC Music Magazine, February 2013 *****

“He relishes verbal dexterity, and the sound of his rolling consonants in Racks, gibbets, sword and fire from Theodora is not easily forgotten, He shakes the word ‘racks’ around his mouth like a dog savaging a toy doll...This outstandingly good disc offers a wide range of music, feeling, texture and mood. Singer and accompanying group are perfectly matched in a sympathetic church acoustic.” MusicWeb International, January 2013

“Purves not only gives a masterclass in characterisation in this collection of opera and oratorio arias, but also showcases a formidable range of nearly three octaves in the fiendishly difficult scene from Aci, Galatea e Polifemo. Equally characterful support from young ensemble Arcangelo under Jonathan Cohen.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, August 2014

“Christopher Purves gives us masterful, dazzling and powerful performances of scenes from 15 of the composer’s dramatic works, lithely and splendidly supported by up-and-coming ensemble Arcangelo and conductor Jonathan Cohen. In short, this is the most outstanding album of its kind I’ve ever heard from any singer.” Early Music Today ****

GGramophone Awards 2013

Finalist - Vocal

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - January 2013

BBC Music Magazine

Opera Choice - February 2013

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2014

Vocal Finalist

Hyperion - CDA67842

(CD)

$14.25

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Donizetti: Maria di Rohan

Donizetti: Maria di Rohan

World Premiere recording of the new Critical Edition


Krassimira Stoyanova (Maria di Rohan), José Bros (Riccardo), Christopher Purves (Enrico), Brindley Sherratt, Loïc Félix (Armando di Gondì), Graeme Broadbent (Il Visconte di Suze), Christopher Turner (Aubry), Riccardo Simonetti (Un Familiare di Chevreuse); Enkelejda Shkosa (mezzo - appendix arias)

Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Sir Mark Elder

According to the late Donizetti expert William Ashbrook, Maria di Rohan (1843) is the composer‘s ‘tautest, most melodramatic opera’ and shows him ‘in complete control of his musico-dramatic goals’. The work was first performed in Vienna, but Donizetti revised it for its Paris premiere, changing the tenor role of Armando di Gondì to mezzo-soprano. Working from the new critical edition of the score, with the period-instrument Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under Sir Mark Elder, Opera Rara has recorded the original Vienna (June 1843) two tenor version as well as some of the appendices from the Paris (November 1843) revision, including those written for the mezzo-soprano, sung here by Enkelejda Shkosa. Set during the time of Cardinal Richelieu, the opera focuses on Maria (Krassimira Stoyanova), secretly married to Riccardo, Duke of Chevreuse (José Bros), who has wounded the Cardinal’s nephew in a duel. In seeking assistance for his plight from Enrico, Count of Chalais (Christopher Purves), Maria finds her former love for the latter revived. The rest of the opera centres on how this intricate and explosive triangle of relationships plays out. As a handful of recent productions have demonstrated, the result shows Donizetti rightly claiming his position as one of the nineteenth-century’s greatest musical dramatists.

The 2CD set, studio recording, comes with a lavishly illustrated book including a complete libretto with an English translation, comprehensive article and synopsis by the eminent 19th-century musical scholar, Jeremy Commons.

"Krassimira Stoyanova, radiant and impassioned, beautifully captured Maria's ambivalent glamour and the private hell beneath her cool allure" Tim Ashley, The Guardian (reviewing the concert performance at the Royal Festival Hall, November 2009)

“the dramatic tautness that was such a feature of the live event comes across vividly on disc. It's one of Donizetti's most economical scores, its mood sombre and threatening, and Elder and the period instruments of the OAE bring out all the dark tints in the scoring. The wonderfully secure soprano Krassimira Stoyanova is the conflicted heroine” The Guardian, 17th November 2011 ****

“No one today has keener stylistic antennae for this repertoire than Elder: conducting the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Geoffrey Mitchell Choir, he shapes a performance of urgency and light-footedness, with a cast headed by Krassimira Stoyanova’s sprightly Maria and José Bros’s agile Riccardo.” Financial Times, 26th November 2011 ****

“Though not the first Maria di Rohan on CD, this set comprehensively eclipses the 1996 one...above all for Mark Elder's marvellously strong, supple conducting...Opera Rara's cast imaginatively features the warmly sympathetic Bulgarian soprano Krassimira Stoyanova, who rises with unaffected eloquence to all of Maria's demands, expertly partnered by the excellently stylish Catalan tenor Jose Bros...Highly recommended.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2012 ****

“There is little wastage. Musky period brass and woodwind intensify the sense of entrapment. Christopher Purves's multi-faceted, volatile Chevreuse dominates. Krassimira Stoyanova is a cool, eloquent Maria, while Enkelejda Shkosa shines as the second Gondi, transformed into a trouser-role for an ungrateful French audience.” The Independent on Sunday, 15th January 2012 ****

“Stoyanova is glorious: she catpures the despair of this troubled character, especially in her preghiera (where she is partnered by a beautifully phrased cor anglais solo)...On a par with Stoyanova is Christopher Purves, with his subtle performance as Chevreuse: in his Act 3 solo he produces an immaculate legato, then shows that he can storm barns with the best...Mark Elder conducts with his usual fire and exemplary attention to dynamic markings.” Gramophone Magazine, February 2012

“[Stoyanova's] voice is well placed, focused and crystalline, with a tang that enables it to inject a dramatic touch, yet it possess a softer element for the intimate portions of the story...Bros is stylistically suited to the music and his technique is flexible enough for him to articulate the notes with accuracy and clarity...[the appendix arias] find a praiseworthy proponent in Enkelejda Shkosa, whose voice of dark velvet ripples and flows” International Record Review, February 2012

Summer Opera Sale

Opera Rara - ORC44

(CD - 2 discs)

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Lamenti

Lamenti


Carissimi:

Lamento della Maria Stuarda

Patrizia Ciofi (soprano)

Cavalli:

Hipparco, e di Climene, Lamento d’Egisto

Rolando Villazón (tenor)

Acate, Ilioneo, Lamento di Enea

Topi Lehtipuu (tenor)

Alle ruine del mio regno, Lamento d’Ecuba e Cassandra

Marie-Nicole Lemieux (alto) & Patrizia Ciofi (soprano)

Cesti:

Dure noie, Lamento d’Atamante

Laurent Naouri (bass-baritone)

Landi, S:

Superbe colli

Christopher Purves (baritone)

Monteverdi:

Lamento della Ninfa (Book 8)

Natalie Dessay (soprano), Simon Wall (tenor), Topi Lehtipuu (tenor) & Christopher Purves (baritone)

Lamento d'Arianna 'Lasciatemi morire'

Véronique Gens (soprano)

Addio Roma! (from L'incoronazione di Poppea)

Joyce DiDonato (mezzo-soprano)

Tu se’ morta mia vita, Lamento d’Orfeo

Rolando Villazón (tenor)

Strozzi:

L'Eraclito amoroso 'Udite amanti'

Philippe Jaroussky (countertenor)


Le Concert Astrée, Emmanuelle Haim

Emmanuelle Haim follows her 2006 recording of Monteverdi’s Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda with an unusual and inventive programme on the theme of the Lamento, the literary and dramatic form that found its seventeenth-century musical archetype in Monteverdi’s celebrated Lamento d’Arianna.

Emmanuelle Haim has taken great care in choosing 9 soloists to perform these demanding works amongst which Véronique Gens sings the Lamento d’Arianna, the tantalising fragment from Monteverdi’s lost opera of 1608; Natalie Dessay is the abandoned nymph in the very different Lamento della ninfa from the Eighth Book of Madrigals. Alongside these familiar works by Monteverdi the programme includes Philippe Jaroussky in Barbara Strozzi’s dramatic monologue L’Eraclito amoroso, probably written for Strozzi herself, Carissimi’s Lamento di Maria Stuarda (with Patrizia Ciofi) and Strozzi’s teacher Cavalli’s Lamento d’Egisto (with Rolando Villazón, who also sings Orfeo’s Lamento). Joyce DiDonato, recently signed to EMI/Virgin Classics as an exclusive artist, adds Ottavia’s heartrending farewell to Rome from Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea.

“Haim is pure dynamite” The Telegraph

“Haim’s meteoric rise has been well charted by the press. It’s easy to understand the excitement - her enthusiasm is infectious, her conducting demeanour distinctive, and her knowledge intense.” Gramophone Magazine

“Waif-like, driven, messianic or explosive, non-conformist, unruly, either way, the conductor Emmanuelle Haim has enough charisma to draw crowds in her wake. Haim is the most dynamic force to have hit the period movement since the 1970s. She’s a born leader” Financial Times

“This all-star cast includes the ravishing Natalie Dessay as Monteverdi's forsaken nymph, Véronique Gens, a proud, desolate Ariadne, and Joyce DiDonato, who sings Octavia's farewell with extraordinary dramatic passion. Much of the interest of this disc lies in its subtleties, Emmanuelle Haïm highlighting telling details...” BBC Music Magazine, November 2008 *****

“A starry host of singers bring their talents to bear on Haïm's programme” Gramophone Magazine, January 2009

Erato - 5190442

(CD)

$8.25

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Handel: Messiah (highlights)

Handel: Messiah (highlights)


Collegium - CSCD519

(CD)

$9.75

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Walton: Belshazzar's Feast, etc.

Walton:

Belshazzar's Feast

Crown Imperial

Orb and Sceptre


Naxos - 8555869

(CD)

$7.00

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Ricci, Federico: La Prigione di Edimburgo (highlights)

Ricci, Federico: La Prigione di Edimburgo (highlights)


Elisabetta Scano (Ida), Christopher Purves (Tom), Nuccia Focile (Giovanna), Dean Robinson (Duca d´Argyle), Nicola Rossi Giordano (Giorgio)

Geoffrey Mitichell Choir, Philharmonia Orchestra, Gabriele Bellini

Walter Scott’s The Heart of Midlothian provided the plot for one of Federico Ricci’s most popular operas, featuring stolen babies, smugglers and burning buildings – all set to beautiful music.

“Opera Rara on top form again – whetting the appetite for another neglected work” Gramophone Magazine

Summer Opera Sale

Opera Rara - ORR228

(CD)

Normally: $18.50

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Glass, P: The Perfect American

Glass, P: The Perfect American

recorded live at Teatro Real Madrid, February 2013


Christopher Purves (Walt Disney), David Pittsinger (Roy Disney), Donald Kaasch (Dantine) & Janis Kelly (Hazel Disney)

Teatro Real Madrid, Dennis Russell Davies

Orange Mountain Music presents the premiere recording of Philip Glass's 2013 opera The Perfect American about the death of Walt Disney performed by an esteemed roster of soloists including Christopher Purves as Walt Disney and performed by the orchestra and chorus of the Teatro Real Madrid under the direction of Dennis Russell Davies. This 2CD set of The Perfect American is a fictionalized biography of Disney's final months. We discover Disney's delusions of immortality via cryogenic preservation, his tirades alongside his Abraham Lincoln talking robot, his utopian visions and his backyard labyrinth of toy trains.

Orange Mountain - OMM0102

(CD - 2 discs)

$16.25

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