Hyperion's Record of the Month sees the long overdue return to the studio of The King's Consort, under the baton of the group's newly appointed Artistic Director Matthew Halls. Here the ensemble presents the premiere recording of Handel's Parnasso in Festa: a unique example in Handel's enormous creative career of a fully-fledged celebratory serenata (or Festa teatrale). This form was rare in England but had developed in parallel with opera in Italy, where it was popular for commemorating special occasions of international significance, such as royal weddings. Parnasso in Festa was written for Princess Anne's marriage to Prince William of Orange. In Handel's serenata three of the Muses, their leader Apollo, his son Orpheus, and Mars (god of War) gather at the feast celebrating the nuptials of Peleus and Thetis. The mythological musicians Apollo and Orfeo must have been particularly appealing for Handel here. Unlike many composers, he never composed an opera about the legend of Orpheus and Euridice. His only depiction of the mythical musician in his entire output forms the core of the serenata's middle part. For a composer who later excelled at representing the musical legends Timotheus and St Cecilia, and who was described by contemporaries as 'the Orpheus of our age', the depiction of Orfeo is notably fascinating. Created two years before Alexander's Feast, and five years before A Song for St Cecilia's Day, the emotional centre of Parnasso in Festa is devoted to a study of the power of music. This magnificent masterpiece has been starved of the wider attention that can only come from frequent performances and disseminated recordings. It is presented here in a dazzling performance by an exceptional group of musicians, and graced by a stellar line-up of soloists led by Carolyn Sampson.