Our May Recording of the Month is Beauteous Softness by British countertenor Tim Mead. A series of English Baroque songs and arias, it’s an album that does precisely what it says on the can (Pentatone PTC5187047).

When it comes to setting the English language, Henry Purcell has few peers, and Mead’s recital is the finest – and the most finely sung – collection of songs by Purcell and his contemporaries you are likely to hear. Mead grew up singing treble in his local cathedral and was a choral scholar at King’s College, Cambridge, so the songs and anthems of the English Restoration are part of his DNA.

On the Record May 2023

Pick any track and you’ll see what I mean. Every word is weighed, every phrase is shaped, and every lyric offers up its full meaning. Rich and velvety, his coppery countertenor is 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 the purple rose” from The Yorkshire Feast Song,...