Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien, guided by François Lazarevitch’s virtuoso flute, have already led us along the roads of Ireland and Scotland, notably the High Road to Kilkenny (ALPHA 234), a great success in 2016. This time, they venture into England with an essentially secular programme devoted to Henry Purcell (1659-95), varying the mood by alternating between instrumental dances and songs performed by the English countertenor Tim Mead, including ‘O Solitude’ and ‘What power art thou’. While Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien have chosen these celebrated pieces for pleasure above all, with this English programme they also fill in a new piece in their jigsaw map of the United Kingdom. At the same time, they demonstrate the musical porosity of Ireland, Scotland and England – and the atypical colours of the small string ensemble complemented by two flutes, a harp and harpsichord/lute continuo further underline the fact. The common thread, dear to Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien, is that of folk music lying at the heart of art music, in a mixture of origins, practices and repertories. We can easily recognise ‘Scotch and Irish tunes’ that Purcell incorporates in his overtures, jigs, hornpipes and chaconnes. The countertenor Tim Mead punctuates the dances with songs composed for the operatic or dramatic stage or for chamber performance.

"The vocal numbers are sung by Tim Mead, a top-class English countertenor of the kind that could have been made for this music, notwithstanding that not everything here was written for his voicetype. His singing radiates rich colour, smooth lyricism and exquisite musicality, and alone would be enough to make this disc treasurable” “the most striking aspect of these performances undoubtedly lies in the instrumental music as served up by Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien, which is full of life and colour."
Gramophone
"This is an enjoyable disc but one that sometimes raises unsettling questions regarding interpretation"
BBC Music Magazine
"Absorbing and revelatory disc"
Sunday Times