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Purcell: Dido & Aeneas / Faultless, Ainsley, Tynan, Bardon, Finley, et al

Notes & Reviews:

"This new recording for Chandos from the Choir and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment is surely set for widespread critical acclaim. The performance takes into account new developments in scholarly thinking, aiming to emulate more closely the court entertainment of Purcell's day. Most noticeable is the incorporation of other dance works by Purcell: a tune from Bonduca, the Almand from his G minor keyboard suite and, my personal favourite, two improvised guitar dances played by the OAE's plucked-continuo players. These inclusions do give the opera a different, more courtly feel to previous recordings; they open it out, allowing more contemplation on the unfolding action." -BBC

Gramophone Magazine
Here is England 's first great opera presented with a truly cohesive sense of theatrical purpose... Sarah Connolly is the driving force from the start... a supremely wide-ranging, tragic and experienced queen... inhabiting the shadows of "Ah! Belinda" with early signs of deplorable fate... the Lament... Connolly lives it with exactly the right blend of pre-conceived nobility and gut-wrenching sadness, simply confirming it as one of the musical high-points of the 17th century.

BBC Music Magazine
This new Dido... enshrines Connolly as one of the most affecting Carthaginian Queens since Janet Baker's account nearly half a century ago. From the outset, Connolly exudes imposing presence, pathos and unassailable dignity; her Act III Lament consummates a deeply-felt empathy with the role (honed not just in Purcell but also mindful of Berlioz's portrait in The Trojans). Gerald Finley's aristocratic Aeneas and Patricia Bardon's gimmick-free yet blood-chilling Sorceress are particularly impressive - though Bardon's sorority of witches sounds more house-trained than maliciously feral, while the playing of the OAE for co-directors Elizabeth Kenny and Stephen Devine is ever-alert and full of flair.

The Guardian
Dido sounds neither "prest with torment" in the opening scenes nor anguished at the close. The great singing comes from Patricia Bardon's lethal Sorceress and Gerald Finley's sincere, subtly anguished Aeneas. The playing, from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, co-directed by harpsichordist Steven Devine and guitarist Elizabeth Kenny, is exquisite.

BBC Music Magazine
A passionate and charismatic venture, the brainchild of Sarah Connolly, the Dido on this disc. Gerald Finley is stunning as a brave and silken-voiced Aeneas, and the continuo powerhouse of Kenny and Devine is awesome.


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