PURCELL Victorious Love (Songs)
It is immediately obvious from the first few songs that this disc is truly special. Carolyn Sampson's singing is deliciously enjoyable for its sweet tuning, flawless intonation, impeccable stylishness, shapely phrasing of melodic lines and textual awareness. Each of these 19 songs, mostly taken from Purcell's operas and music for theatre plays, are given judicious performances. The programme admirably shows the variety of characteristics and styles in Purcell's writing, and Sampson achieves the perfect degree of joyful radiance, seductiveness, witty comment or bittersweet melancholy in each song. “Sweeter than roses” is an old warhorse for early music singers, but the poetry has seldom seemed
so personal as it does in Sampson's heart-rending rendition. The Plaint from The Fairy Queen is beautifully done and the line “he's gone and I shall never see him more” is remarkable for its stylish precision and emotional truthfulness (the performance is also notable for Sarah Sexton's superb solo violin-playing).
The supporting players, in particular the continuo team of Elizabeth Kenny, Laurence Cummings and Anne-Marie Lasla, always sound as if they are fully interested in the subtle nuances of the music. Well known favourites such as “Music for a while”, “Fairest isle” and “I attempt from love's sickness to fly” are excellently done, but several of the relatively obscure songs (“The fatal hour” and “From silent shades”) are shown to be equally rewarding and engaging. First-class new recordings of Purcell's music are much too rare, and this one deserves to be an enormous success.