April 25, 2023

‘Beauteous Softness’ is “quite simply the finest collection of songs”

“Mead’s eye for detail shows Restoration masterpieces in their true colours.”

Beauteous Softness, performed by Tim Mead, La Nuova Musica and David Bates, received an outstanding five-star review and was selected as the Recording of the Month by Limelight.

Tim Mead’s recital for the Dutch Pentatone label is therefore doubly welcome. Not only might it spread the word throughout the post-Brexit European Union, but it’s quite simply the finest – and the most finely sung – collection of songs by Purcell and his contemporaries that you are likely to hear.

Pick any track on this generously compiled album and you see what he means. Every word is weighed, every phrase is shaped, and every lyric offers up its full meaning. Velvety and dark, his coppery countertenor is a ripe as a plum. And while he’s capable of floating effortlessly over a long lyrical line, he can also surprise with his vocal muscularity. Take, for example, the heroic weight he brings to bear on “The pale and purple rose” from The Yorkshire Feast Song, or the stream of anguished turmoil he pours forth in “O let me weep” from The Fairy Queen.

Mead is buoyed throughout by the excellent musicians of La Nuova Musica under Artistic Director David Bate who judges everything just right. As a result, the listener can revel in both the manifold colours of Mead’s instrument and the alluring variety of Purcell’s orchestrations.

Clive Paget

You can read the full review HERE.