February 01, 2023

Tim Mead, David Bates and La Nuova Musica present ‘Beauteous Softness’

Pentatone releases Beauteous Softness featuring Tim Mead, David Bates and La Nuova Musica in March 2023.

Restrained Yet Profoundly Moving English Songs from the Seventeenth Century

Countertenor Tim Mead presents Beauteous Softness, a programme containing restrained yet profoundly moving songs by seventeenth-century English composers such as Purcell, Blow, Humfrey and Webb, in collaboration with La Nuova Musica and David Bates. The album also showcases the rich musical context that provided the foundation from which Purcell rose to prominence.

Tim Mead is one of today’s most in-demand countertenors, and returns to Pentatone after having starred in a complete recording of Handel’s Messiah (2020). La Nuova Musica and its artistic director David Bates are among the most exciting Baroque ensembles of today. Their Pentatone debut with Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice was both BBC Music Magazine’s Choice and Gramophone Editor’s Choice in December 2019, while Handel’s Unsung Heroes (2021) was BBC Music Magazine Recording of the Month and selected among the Best Classical Music Albums of 2022 by Gramophone.

“In an elaborate Baroque landscape of ornament and flamboyance, the songs of Henry Purcell are often models of restraint. This isn’t music that shouts to make itself heard or uses tricks to impress, yet still profoundly impacts its listener. This subtlety has always drawn me to this repertoire. It seems as if all emotion has been distilled into perfectly crafted gestures in which music and text are as one. A slight turn of phrase or small harmonic detail can be heavy with meaning. It is in this rich vein of material that the rewarding interpretive work in this repertoire really lies. The title ‘Beauteous Softness’ (taken from a solo verse from the ode ‘Now does the glorious day appear’) seems to perfectly encapsulate these glorious subtleties.

While the world was still in lockdown, David Bates and La Nuova Musica invited me to collaborate on their Purcell video series. It was the perfect music with which to collectively emerge from the silence. Inspired by these sessions we committed to exploring further songs together, as well as the best work from Purcell’s contemporaries: John Blow, Pelham Humfrey and William Webb. The resulting collection contains old favourites alongside the less familiar and fulfils a long held dream to follow in Alfred Deller’s hallowed footsteps and record the astonishing Plaint from Purcell’s ‘The Fairy Queen’.

– Tim Mead

Digital Release Date: 24 MARCH 2023

Physical Release: MARCH 2023

Released as 1 CD and in digital formats for streaming and high-resolution downloads.