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Purcell: Dido and Aeneas, The Indian Queen / Hogwood, Bott, Kirkby, Ainsley, Thomas

Purcell / Bott / Kirkby / Ainsley / Thomas
Release Date: 03/13/2012 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 001650902   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Henry Purcell
Performer:  Emma KirkbyGerald FinleyThomas WilliamsCatherine Bott,   ... 
Conductor:  Christopher Hogwood
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of Ancient Music ChorusAcademy of Ancient Music Chamber EnsembleAcademy of Ancient Music
Number of Discs: 2 
Low Stock: Currently 3 or fewer in stock. Usually ships in 24 hours, unless stock becomes depleted.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Purcell's fourth and last full-scale semi-opera, The Indian Queen, is often passed over in favour of its longer and more rounded predecessors, especially King Arthur and The Fairy Queen. The reasons are plentiful: Thomas Betterton, with whom Purcell collaborated, never finished his reworking of an early Restoration tragedy and even if he had torn himself away from his business interests in 1695, Purcell would not have been alive to set the remaining music for Act 5. As it happened, Henry's brother Daniel set the masque from the final act after Betterton had hired an anonymous writer to finish his adaptation. No one can deny that neither verse nor music achieved the heights imagined in the original collaboration; given the quality of the Read more masques in Purcell's large `dramatick' operas (including Dioclesian, of course), there is an undoubted sense of anticlimax. To cap it all, the story-line - the tale of a doomed queen - hardly encouraged rejouissance of a conventional type, or the full range of characterful scenes upon which Purcell thrived. More fundamental, as Curtis Price points out, is that the play was not ideal for conversion into an 'opera' in the first place. Purcell must have recognized that the subject matter (delivered in antiquated heroic couplets) was to provide him with few avenues for his imagination to reign. That there is so much fine music here is proof of the composer's undaunted spirit and peerless ability.

The difference between the Purcell Simfony's graceful and intimate performance and this new account from Christopher Hogwood is that the latter makes us realize that for all the constraints, the score is not inherently small-scale and that it warrants all the subtlety of colour that can be achieved using 12 soloists and a decent sized choir and orchestra. Needless to say, Hogwood conveys a consistent, logical and meticulous understanding of the score. The orchestral playing is crisp and transparent (as in the Symphony of Act 2), the Academy of Ancient Music's articulation allowing the integrity of the inner parts to be heard to the full without compromising blend. Amongst a distinguished line-up of singers, John Mark Ainsley gets the lion's share and is perhaps marginally more effective as the Indian Boy than as Fame, but such gloriously mellifluous and controlled singing can only enhance the reputation of this work. Emma Kirkby is in fine fettle and she executes the justly celebrated song "I attempt from love's sickness" with her usual communicative panache.

Then comes the pleasurably contrasted voice of Catherine Bott: "They tell us that your mighty powers" could not be in better hands. David Thomas as Envy, with his two followers in the Act 2 masque, highlights this brilliant scene as the work of a true connoisseur of the theatre. Mature Purcell is most strongly felt in the deftly ironic invocation by the conjurer, Ismeron, whose "Ye twice ten thousand deities" is delivered authoritatively by Gerald Finley, though the lulling to sleep, before the God of Dream's gloomy nonprediction, is strangely unconvincing. Gardiner is particularly effective here.

Taken as a whole, the quality of music shines very brightly in this reading. It is perhaps a touch calculated in places. I prefer the Purcell Simfony's melting chorus "While thus we bow before your shrine"; indeed, there is a tenderness in that recording which is touching but Hogwood's new version has to stand as the current favourite. The inclusion of Daniel Purcell's Act 5 masque is interesting but not much more than that. He evidently excelled himself but he also reaffirms Henry's superiority on all levels.

-- JF-A, Gramophone
Reviewing original release of The Indian Queen

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Works on This Recording

1.
Indian Queen, Z 630 by Henry Purcell
Performer:  Emma Kirkby (Soprano), Gerald Finley (Bass), Thomas Williams (Treble),
Catherine Bott (Soprano), Libby Crabtree (Soprano), Julian Podger (Tenor),
David Thomas (Bass), Helen Parker (Soprano), John Mark Ainsley (Tenor),
Simon Berridge (Tenor)
Conductor:  Christopher Hogwood
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of Ancient Music Chorus,  Academy of Ancient Music Chamber Ensemble
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1695; England 
Date of Recording: 07/1994 
Venue:  Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London 
Length: 73 Minutes 27 Secs. 
Language: English 
2.
Dido and Aeneas, Z 626 by Henry Purcell
Performer:  Emma Kirkby (Soprano), Sara Stowe (Soprano), John Mark Ainsley (Tenor),
Catherine Bott (Soprano), Julianne Baird (Soprano), Elisabeth Priday (Soprano),
David Thomas (Bass), Daniel Lochmann (Tenor), Michael Chance (Countertenor)
Conductor:  Christopher Hogwood
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of Ancient Music,  Academy of Ancient Music Chorus
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1689; England 
Date of Recording: 09/1992 
Venue:  Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London 
Length: 52 Minutes 33 Secs. 
Language: English 

Sound Samples

Dido and Aeneas / Act 1: Overture
Dido and Aeneas / Act 1: "Shake the cloud from off your brow"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 1: "Ah! Belinda. I am prest with torment"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 1: "When monarchs unite"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 1: "Whence could so much virtue spring?"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 1: "Fear no danger"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 1: "See, see, your royal guest appears"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 1: "Cupid only throws the dart"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 1: "If not for mine"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 1: "Pursue thy conquest, love"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 1: A Dance Gittars Chacony
Dido and Aeneas / Act 1: "To the hills and the vales"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 1: The triumphing dance
Dido and Aeneas / Act 2: Prelude for the witches - "Wayward sisters"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 2: "Harm's our delight"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 2: "The Queen of Carthage, whom we hate"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 2: "In our deep vaulted cell"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 2: Echo dance of the Furies
Dido and Aeneas / Act 2: Ritornelle - "Thanks to these lonesome vales"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 2: Glitter ground - a dance
Dido and Aeneas / Act 2: "Oft she visits" - Ritornelle
Dido and Aeneas / Act 2: "Behold upon my bending spear"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 2: "Haste, haste to town"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 2: "Stay, Prince, stay"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 2: Ritornelle
Dido and Aeneas / Act 3: Prelude - "Come away, fellow sailors"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 3: The Sailors' Dance
Dido and Aeneas / Act 3: "See the flags and streamers curling"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 3: "Destruction's our delight"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 3: The Witches' Dance
Dido and Aeneas / Act 3: "Your councel all is urg'd in vain"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 3: "Great minds against themselves conspire"
Dido and Aeneas, Z.626 / Act 3: "Thy Hand Belinda - When I Am Laid In Earth"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 3: "With drooping wings"
The Indian Queen, Z. 630 - ed A. Pinnock, M. Laurie - Prologue: Overture
The Indian Queen, Z. 630 - ed A. Pinnock, M. Laurie - Prologue: Overture
The Indian Queen, Z. 630 - ed A. Pinnock, M. Laurie - Prologue: Second Music: Air - Hornpipe
The Indian Queen, Z. 630 - ed A. Pinnock, M. Laurie - Prologue: Trumpet Tune
The Indian Queen, Z. 630 - ed A. Pinnock, M. Laurie - Prologue: Trumpet Tune
The Indian Queen, Z. 630 - ed A. Pinnock, M. Laurie - Prologue: Wake Quivera, Wake
The Indian Queen, Z. 630 - ed A. Pinnock, M. Laurie - Prologue: Why Should Men Quarrel?
The Indian Queen, Z. 630 - ed A. Pinnock, M. Laurie - Prologue: By Ancient Prophecies
The Indian Queen, Z. 630 - ed A. Pinnock, M. Laurie - Act 2: Symphony
The Indian Queen, Z. 630 - ed A. Pinnock, M. Laurie - Act 2: I Come To Sing Great Zempoalla's Story
The Indian Queen, Z. 630 - ed A. Pinnock, M. Laurie - Act 2: What Flatt'ring Noise Is This?
The Indian Queen, Z. 630 - ed A. Pinnock, M. Laurie - Act 2: Scorn'd Envy, Here's Nothing
The Indian Queen, Z. 630 - ed A. Pinnock, M. Laurie - Act 2: Trumpet Tune
The Indian Queen, Z. 630 - ed A. Pinnock, M. Laurie - Act 2: We Come To Sing Great Zempoalla's Story
The Indian Queen, Z. 630 - ed A. Pinnock, M. Laurie - Act 2: Dance
The Indian Queen, Z. 630 - ed A. Pinnock, M. Laurie - Act 2: Second Act Tune (Trumpet Tune reprise)
The Indian Queen, Z. 630 - ed A. Pinnock, M. Laurie - Act 3: Dance
The Indian Queen, Z. 630 - ed A. Pinnock, M. Laurie - Act 3: Ye Twice The Hundred Deities - By The Croaking
The Indian Queen, Z. 630 - ed A. Pinnock, M. Laurie - Act 3: Symphony - Seek Not To Know
The Indian Queen, Z. 630 - ed A. Pinnock, M. Laurie - Act 3: Trumpet Overture
The Indian Queen, Z. 630 - ed A. Pinnock, M. Laurie - Act 3: Ah, How Happy Are We
The Indian Queen, Z. 630 - ed A. Pinnock, M. Laurie - Act 3: We The Spirits Of The Air
The Indian Queen, Z. 630 - ed A. Pinnock, M. Laurie - Act 3: I Attempt From Love's Sickness To Fly
The Indian Queen, Z. 630 - ed A. Pinnock, M. Laurie - Act 3: Third Act Tune: Rondeau
The Indian Queen, Z. 630 - ed A. Pinnock, M. Laurie - Act 4: They Tell Us That Your Mighty Powers
The Indian Queen, Z. 630 - ed A. Pinnock, M. Laurie - Act 4: Fourth Act Tune: Air
The Indian Queen, Z. 630 - ed A. Pinnock, M. Laurie - Act 5: While Thus We Bow
The Indian Queen, Z. 630 - ed A. Pinnock, M. Laurie - Act 5: You, Who At The Altar - All Dismal Sounds
The Indian Queen - Additional Act-Masque to Purcell's Opera - Edited Andrew Pinnock & Margaret Laurie: Symphony
The Indian Queen - Additional Act-Masque to Purcell's Opera - Edited Andrew Pinnock & Margaret Laurie: To Bless The Genial Bed - Come All, Come At My Call
The Indian Queen - Additional Act-Masque to Purcell's Opera - Edited Andrew Pinnock & Margaret Laurie: I'm Glad I Have Met Him
The Indian Queen - Additional Act-Masque to Purcell's Opera - Edited Andrew Pinnock & Margaret Laurie: The Joys Of Wedlock Soon Are Past - Sound, Sound The Trumpet
The Indian Queen - Additional Act-Masque to Purcell's Opera - Edited Andrew Pinnock & Margaret Laurie: Make Haste, Make Haste To Put On Love's Chains
The Indian Queen - Additional Act-Masque to Purcell's Opera - Edited Andrew Pinnock & Margaret Laurie: Trumpet Air - Let Loud Renown With All Her Thousand Tongues

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