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.
Gramophone Award-winning baroque band Arcangelo with their director Jonathan Cohen provide the sparkling accompaniments.
‘With his acting chops and weighty bass-baritone, Purves in full cry is a splendid and fearful spectacle’ (The Times)
Born in Cambridge, Christopher Purves was a choral scholar at King’s College, Cambridge, where he studied English. On leaving university he joined the highly innovative rock and roll group Harvey and the Wallbangers, before he was offered the opportunity to sing Don Pasquale with Opera 80. He subsequently appeared in Mozart’s C minor Mass in Aix-en-Provence with Harry Christophers and The Sixteen, followed by his debut at English National Opera as Masetto in Don Giovanni.
In a close collaboration with the director Richard Jones, Christopher has enjoyed much critical acclaim for his interpretations of Wozzeck at Welsh National Opera, Tonio (Pagliacci) for English National Opera and more recently the title role in Falstaff at the Glyndebourne Festival and Beckmesser in Die Meistersinger for Welsh National Opera. Further operatic appearances include Marco (Gianni Schicchi) at Covent Garden, Lescaut (Manon Lescaut) and Balstrode (Peter Grimes) for Opera North, the title role in Don Giovanni and The General in James MacMillan’s The Sacrifice for Welsh National Opera, Melisso (Alcina) at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, and Sharpless in Anthony Minghella’s production of Madama Butterfly for English National Opera. Christopher made his Salzburg debut in Katie Mitchell’s production of Luigi Nono’s Al gran sole carico d’amore, a production revived at the Staatsoper in Berlin. Christopher has appeared as Balstrode in Peter Grimes at Houston Grand Opera and at La Scala, Milan. He made his debut at Festival d’Aix-en-Provence in George Benjamin’s critically acclaimed Written on Skin, and at Opéra de Lille as Nick Shadow in The Rake’s Progress. In London he sang Mephistopheles in Terry Gilliam’s production of The Damnation of Faust for ENO, which won the Southbank Sky Arts 2012 opera award.
On the concert platform Christopher has appeared in performances of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio with the Rotterdam Philharmonic and the Copenhagen Philharmonic, Haydn’s The Creation with Le Concert d’Astrée, Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia at the Aldeburgh Festival and Aci, Galatea e Polifemo and Acis and Galatea with the Gabrieli Consort at Wigmore Hall. His extensive discography includes recordings for Chandos, Opera Rara, Opus Arte and Harmonia Mundi.
Jonathan Cohen is one of Britain’s finest young musicians. He has forged a remarkable career with notable success as a conductor, cellist and keyboardist. He is well known for his passion and commitment to chamber music which he expands to diverse activities such as Baroque opera and the Classical symphonic repertoire.
Jonathan enjoys a close relationship with Les Arts Florissants, with whom he is Associate Conductor, and for their thirtieth anniversary season he collaborated with William Christie conducting performances of Dido and Aeneas (Netherlands Opera), Purcell’s Fairy Queen (Opéra Comique and Brooklyn Academy New York), as well as a concert programme of Gluck, Haydn and Mozart in London and Paris. His debut with them conducting Hérold’s Zampa at the Opéra Comique in March 2008 received great critical acclaim.
After finishing his studies at Clare College, Cambridge, Jonathan began his career establishing himself as a cellist. He performed as guest principal with many of the United Kingdom’s foremost orchestras and ensembles, such as the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and The King’s Consort. With this experience Jonathan developed a unique crossover specialism in the field of early music and an interest in period instruments. He was a founder member of the London Haydn Quartet, with whom he recorded two sets of Haydn quartets for Hyperion. He continues to enjoy chamber music projects, collaborating regularly with violinists Daniel Hope and Barnabas Kelemen, cellist Nicolas Altstaedt and pianist Kristian Bezuidenhout.