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Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
18
4.6 out of 5 stars
O Solitude
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on 17 January 2011
Finally... songs by the greatest English composer, sung by the greatest "English" countertenor. With this CD of secular and operatic arias by Henry Purcell, Andreas Scholl has returned to his "erste Liebe". The selection includes many of the best-known and best-loved songs, including "Music for a while" and "If music be the food of love", both of which AS imbues with all the poise, clarity and understanding for which he is justly famous, combined with unexpected flashes of cheerfulness. Apparently, Mr Scholl considers that "Music for a while" is one of the top 10 songs ever written and on this evidence who would argue?

The infrequently-recorded Cold Genius song, "What power thou art" from King Arthur, is a sheer triumph of strength and expression and is a particularly effective transposition to the countertenor range from the more usual bass/baritone - if you are not shivering and breathless by the end of it, you clearly haven't been listening properly. In contrast, the ingeniously simple "Fairest isle", which Mr Scholl sang to such acclaim at the Last Night of the Proms in 2005, is sung with a beguiling lightness of touch, and benefits from a sensitive harpsichord/lute/cello trio during the vocal sections and lavishly smooth and charming strings during orchestral parts; together they produce an absolutely scintillating rendition, the radiance of which just leaves you stunned with wonder. The one aria over which some controversy might arise is Dido's Lament, "When I am laid in earth", it being sung usually by a mezzo-soprano, but concern is needless; here it is surprisingly and movingly affecting and, after all, the sentiment, if not the context, is universally applicable. I could go on with "O Solitude", but you will get the picture by now.

Accademia Bizantina play several orchestral pieces with verve and spirit and, indeed, these have an important role in the structure of the CD since some of the songs have such an intensity to them that they could not be followed instantly by another; so the orchestral sections also serve to allow the listener to emerge gradually from the stillness engendered by a particularly powerful or sensitive aria. However, this CD is really all about the songs, where Stefano Montanari has the sense to appreciate that less is more; his gentle, supportive orchestration (and particularly the elegant organ/harpsichord accompaniment of Markus Märkl) gives Andreas Scholl the space and freedom to do what he does best - to use his captivating voice, his technical excellence, his lovely way with words and his experience to breathe life and warmth into some of the best-written songs in the english language. As he did with John Dowland, Andreas Scholl, at last, makes Purcell his own.

The recording includes two duets with Christophe Dumaux, whose voice I like very much also. The slow "O dive custos Auriacae domus" worked beautifully and would be in danger of being the highlight of the CD if not for, well, all the other highlights. "Sound the Trumpet", meanwhile, is sung with a delightfully engaging liveliness, but I am not entirely convinced that Scholl & Dumaux is the ideal pairing for this countertenor classic which, in my opinion, requires voices of a broadly similar style to make the very most of its counterpoint - let us hope for Scholl & Davies in the near future but until then I think we must let Bowman & Chance still have this one.

Right, let's turn to the elephant in the room. Does this version of the elegiac "An Evening Hymn" eclipse Michael Chance's supremely delicate, intelligent and reflective 1993 reading - the benchmark for so long? Of course not, but it stands firmly alongside as an exquisite, intensely beautiful new edition which will, without doubt, also stand the test of time.

Henry Purcell has been well served; it was definitely worth the wait.
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on 29 January 2011
When I received a text message from my father saying 'have you heard the new Andreas Scholl album, O Solitude? Drop everything and get it now!' I did just that. And I'm very glad I did. This is an intelligently assembled collection of Purcell which will take you on a journey through many different emotions and musical colours. The opening album opens with "If music be the food of love" and by the end of this 2 minute track I was indeed willing him to "sing on"!
There is something totally captivating about the dark and chilling "What power art thou" and the famous Dido's Lament is very moving.
This is music that demands one's full attention. Best listened to in Solitude.
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on 10 February 2011
I was driving in my car with radio 3 on when I heard the most haunting song. By the time I got to the traffic lights, the tears were involuntarily flowing - it was Andreas Scholl's recording of Dido's lament 'When I am laid in earth' from his recent CD of Purcell music, 'O Solitude'. I immediately bought the CD and think it a rare treasure. The rendition of the 'frost song' from 'King Arthur' is startling, funny and touching - rather a surprise piece. Supported by the Accademia Bizantina, Scholl makes his first recording foray into Purcell and it is a triumph. I think I now rate his version of 'When I am laid in earth' as the most sublimely beautiful and tragic short piece I have ever heard. I feel the need to share this CD with my friends!
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VINE VOICEon 24 October 2011
Purcell's complete works should be on every Englishman's shelf in my opinion, but if for some reason you are not so inclined (and if not why not?) this recording is an excellent panorama of the quality of Purcell's compositions with legendary countertenor Andreas Scholl.

There is perhaps little point in me adding anything to the full review here by T Mason, so I shall simply direct you to that and add my own positive vote.
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on 30 January 2011
Absolutely glorious rendition of Purcell classics. "When I am laid in earth" sent shivers down my spine. Scholl's imcomporable voice improves year on year, and this selection of one of the greatest of English composer's works is a real treat - sheer luxury to the ears!
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#1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERon 8 February 2011
I was going to write a full review of this wonderful disc, but I find that T Mason has already said everything I was going to say. So, my advice is to read Mr Mason's excellent review and snap the disc up. It's a real gem.
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on 25 April 2013
Have been checking out Andreas Scholl's albums for a while now, as needed more! Currently have 4 in total, but this is by far one of my favourites. This album was just what I was looking for - the wonderful voice of Andreas, English speaking tracks, beautiful traditional classical music in abundance - this album is like birdsong, it fills ones heart with joy! If you love Andreas voice and traditional classical music, don't hesitate, just buy! Wanted to add, that I am not a religious person, but this album brings out my spiritual side, if that makes sense.
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on 11 October 2011
I just wish that that this disc was released as a hybrid multichannel SACD, it would sound superb and we would hear his voice at its best!
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on 7 April 2013
arrived on time. Definately not my cup of tea so lucky it was a present for someone who loves him!!.
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on 13 June 2013
This is one of my favorite CD álbuns. So sensitive and so intimate. The music is superb and the Andreas Scholl is touching.
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