After their superb 2019 recording of Purcell’s King Arthur , Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Consort & Players return with this equally fine account of The Fairy Queen , the composer’s wondrous 1692 semi-opera based on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream .

Not the least of this project’s achievements is the synthesis of so many logical lines of enquiry and strands of scholarly speculation, inspired by primary and secondary sources and tested by years of experimentation. Then again, complexity often gives rise to elegant, if temporary, solutions.

The situation was already complex in Purcell’s time. As Andrew Pinnock writes in a detailed booklet essay outlining the historical context of The Fairy Queen : “ Dioclesian , King Arthur and The Fairy Queen were remarkable but highly contingent achievements: products of an unstable theatrical ecosystem in which producer ambitions, performer egos, financial practicalities and audience expectations had reached a temporary state of balance. Shortly before Purcell’s death that ecosystem collapsed.”

Further notes are included: Paul McCreesh and Christopher Suckling on The Fairy Queen Restor’d; Jan Waterfield on realising Purcell’s Basslines; Mhairi Lawson on Singing Purcell; Catherine Martin and...