on 15 September 2010
This is an absolutely wonderful CD, the best new classical CD I have heard in the past 5 years. Purcell has never sounded bettter, or more modern. One appreciates just how much great music there is hidden away in his semi-operas. The performance is exhilerating, uplifting and exciting. Most of the CD consists of tracks taken from the four semi-operas Purcell wrote in the 1690's, including the Fairie Queen, but also King Arthur, Timon of Athens, and The Hisory of the Dioclesian, as well as tracks from other sources. It is a very long CD, lasting 86 minutes, with 10 instrumental, and 19 vocal tracks. Nearly every one of these tracks is quite exceptional and a delight to hear. The result is that the CD is an enticing mixture of merriment, tenderness, melancholy and humor.
Wolfgang Katchner, with the Lautten Compagney, Berlin, takes liberties with some of the instrumental arrangement, but these are highly effective. The opening track, which makes extensive use of the Jewish harp, is sheer pleasure. I have yet to find anyone from any musical background who is not taken by it.
But above all the CD is blessed by the sublime singing of Dorothee Mields. I know of no singer who has a more exquisite and heavenly voice. I cannot understand why she is not much better known. She is the same class as Magdalena Kozena and Carolyn Sampson. While she does not have the power and virtuosity of these two great singers, I think she has the most beautiful voice of the three. She has a voice from another world. It has a purity and spiritual quality to it that is unmatched.
Perhaps this fantastic album will finally get her the recognition she deserves. She has made many outstanding CDs over the past ten years, yet remains relatively unknown. I strongly recommend her CDs of the Stolzel Secular Cantatas, with Jan Kobow and Ludger Remy, her Dowland Songs "In Darkness let me Dwell", with Hille Perl, the Cornonation Mass and Vespers by Mozart, the Ode on Saint Cecilia's Day, and Alexander's Feast by Handel, all of her outstanding CDs of Bach with Phillipe Herreweghe, and the one with Masaaki Suzuki, and her exceptional CD of Telemann, which includes the Jesus and the Soul cantata, recorded with Klaus Mertens and Shalev Ad-El. All of these CDs will provide hours of listening pleasure.