Of the several early music ensembles founded 40 years ago, Andrew Parrott's Taverner Consort has remained true to its Renaissance and baroque roots and has not ventured towards Beethoven, Berlioz or Verdi. This new version of Monteverdi's Orfeo is thoroughly researched and reimagined, from the opening hubbub and bizarre mixed-pitch fanfares, through to the last swirling recorder decoration on the final chorus. There are some weaknesses (an unclear harp in Possente spirto) but many new beauties: as Orfeo, Charles Daniels, a Taverner stalwart, cannot quite erase memories of Nigel Rogers's clarion brilliance, but this is a gentle, lyrical vision of a miraculous opera.
Nicholas Kenyon is managing director of the Barbican Centre and was director of the BBC Proms from 1996 to 2007. He wrote the Faber Pocket Guide to Mozart