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Purcell: Dido and Aeneas / Pinnock, von Otter, Varcoe

Release Date: 09/13/1989 
Label:  Archiv Produktion (Dg)   Catalog #: 427624   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Henry Purcell
Performer:  Kym AmpsStephen VarcoeLynne DawsonAnne Sofie von Otter,   ... 
Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English ConcertEnglish Concert Choir
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 54 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Dido's lament is one of the most affecting on record because every detail of the instrumental writing is miraculously controlled, giving Anne Sofie von Otter the opportunity to project the line so clearly. Every detail is thoroughly musical.

Trevor Pinnock's Dido is a more languid affair than [other recordings]. Less over-dotting, fewer extremes of tempo, no funny business for the witches' chorus. In general his tempos tend to be gentler, sometimes even moving towards the older approaches that 'original instrument' versions have so far tended to avoid. But then Dido's final lament is perhaps the fastest on record (which is part of what I mean by fewer extremes of tempo); and in many ways it is one of the most affecting
Read more performances too, because every detail of the instrumental writing is miraculously controlled and because Anne Sofie von Otter is given the opportunity to project the line so clearly.

She may not seem the ideal Dido. She lacks Ann Murray's marvellous vocal drama for Harnoncourt (Teldec/ASV); she makes no attempt to emulate Guillemette Laurens' terrifying portrayal of the last meeting between Dido and Aeneas on the Christie/Harmonia Mundi recording; and she does not have the still elegance of Emma Kirkby for Parrott (Chandos). But in range she is more perfectly suited to the role than any of these; and her vivid control plays its part in the broad canvas that Pinnock assembles.

Stephen Varcoe is less well cast in terms of range. His low notes are a little weak and the high notes rarely give the sense of climax that the music seems to imply. It really needs a bass (which Parrott and Harnoncourt supply—David Thomas and Anton Scharinger). But he is a wonderfully sensitive musician and sings well. Lynne Dawson turns in an excellent Belinda, well partnered by Sarah Leonard in "Fear no danger".

One novelty is that the Sorceress is here taken down an octave to be sung by Nigel Rogers at the bottom of his range. Curtis Price explains why in an informative note. Without taking sides on the issue, I do think it works very well here. All the music associated with the witches in fact comes across more expressively than on the other discs listed. And Nigel Rogers doubles as a cheerful sailor (followed, however, by a somewhat refined sailors' chorus).

For sheer dramatic impetus, Harnoncourt remains the winner; but then many will not like the self-indulgent approach to tempo and articulation he favours. Where Pinnock scores is in the refinement and control that shows throughout. Every detail is thoroughly musical.

-- Gramophone [10/1989]
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Works on This Recording

Dido and Aeneas, Z 626 by Henry Purcell
Performer:  Kym Amps (Soprano), Stephen Varcoe (Baritone), Lynne Dawson (Soprano),
Anne Sofie von Otter (Mezzo Soprano), Nigel Rogers (Tenor), Sarah Leonard (Soprano),
Elisabeth Priday (Soprano), Carol Hall (Soprano)
Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert,  English Concert Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1689; England 
Date of Recording: 07/1988 
Venue:  Henry Wood Hall, London 
Length: 53 Minutes 56 Secs. 
Language: English 

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