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
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]
Works on This Recording
Dido and Aeneas, Z 626 by Henry Purcell
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)
English Concert Choir
Written: 1689; England
Date of Recording: 07/1988
Venue: Henry Wood Hall, London
Length: 53 Minutes 56 Secs.
Dido and Aeneas: Overture
Dido and Aeneas / Act 1: "Shake the cloud from off your brow" - "Banish sorrow, banish care"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 1: "Ah! Belinda, I am press'd" ... "When monarchs unite, how happy"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 1: "Whence could so much virtue spring?" - "Fear no danger"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 1: "See, your royal guest appears" - "Cupid only throws the dart"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 1: "If not for mine, for empire's sake" ... "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" ... "Ho, ho, ho"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 2: "Ruin'd ere the set of sun" ... "But ere we this perform"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 2: "In our deep vaulted cell"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 2: Echo Dance of Furies
Dido and Aeneas / Act 2: Ritornelle - "Thanks to these lonesome vales"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 2: "Oft she visits"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 2: "Behold, upon my bending spear" - "Haste, haste to town"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 2: "Stay, Prince"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 3: Prelude - "Come away, fellow sailors"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 3: The Sailors' Dance "See the flags and streamers curling"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 3: "Our next motion" - "Destructions's our delight"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 3: The Witches' Dance
Dido and Aeneas / Act 3: "Your counsel all is urg'd in vain" - "Great minds against themselves conspire"
Dido And Aeneas / Act 3: "Thy hand, Belinda...When I am laid in earth"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 3: "With drooping wings"
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