Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Purcell - Victorious Love - Sampson

Rating: 5/5

Wonderful Purcell

This is a terrific collection of Purcell's songs and arias. The selection is excellent, with many of his Greatest Hits like Fairest Isle and Music For A While interspersed with less well-known but equally enjoyable pieces. Purcell, of course, was a wonderful composer, full of melody and harmonic invention and innovation which shows fully in these songs. They are expressive and beautifully set, and remain absolute gems.

Carolyn Sampson sings them wonderfully. She is now well established as a leading performer of early music particularly and this disc is a good example of why she is so highly regarded: her voice is rich and beautiful, her technique and intonation are impeccable and she lends real meaning to what she is singing without ever straying into the pantomimic over-expression which mars some recitals. She has also chosen some magnificent musicians to accompany her here and the varied arrangements are a delight, from the larger instrumental group in pieces like The Bashful Thames to the exquisite rendering of An Evening Hymn, accompanied by theorbo only which makes a spellbinding close to the disc. It's a terrific programme and a delight from start to finish.

The recording quality is excellent (as always from BIS) and Elizabeth Kenny's notes are interesting and readable. In February 2014 this was selected as the best single disc of Purcell songs for Radio 3's Building A Library - a deserved accolade, in my view, even in the face of phenomenal competition. It's a really good disc all round and I recommend it very warmly indeed.

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