You Did Not Want for joy
Works by Nico Muhly, Britten, Purcell, Dowland, Campion and Hildegard
Carolyn Sampson (soprano), Matt Wadsworth (lute)
Deux-Elles DXL1192 50:51 mins
In their third collaborative album, the soprano and her attendant lutenist/theorboist have assembled an appealing collection, lightly themed – nature, love and the human condition all feature – whilst covering a range of periods from Hildegard through to Nico Muhly.
These two figures, in fact, appear together in the title-track, a laid-back piece commissioned from Muhly and setting a new translation of ‘O viridissima virga’; its original form is the album’s closing item.
In between there’s a mix of folk song, lute songs by Campion and Dowland, three Purcell items and Wadsworth’s own arrangements from Britten’s folk-song collections.
Sampson’s approach to the folk material is straightforward but eloquent, her light, graceful vocalism perfectly supported by the lutenist – though maybe a rougher manner could have been essayed for the scurrilous broadside ballad ‘Packington’s Pound’.
Campion’s ‘Never Weather-Beaten Sail’ is clean and direct, the gloomy ‘The Cypress Curtain of the Night’ moving in its purposeful artistic intent, ‘It Fell on a Summer’s Day’ wittily erotic.
Purcell’s melancholy ground bass ‘Crown the Altar, Deck the Shrine’ (from the birthday ode Celebrate This Festival, Z 321), is sensitively done, while Sampson’s young Scottish woman character (with appropriate accent) is wise to the blandishments of blabbermouth Sawney. The two musicians draw an attractive picture of sad Damon and his interconnection with birdsong in ‘Amidst the Shades.’
Dowland’s ‘A Shepherd in a Shade’ is pragmatic, even sceptical, while the mood of mourning in ‘Weep You No More’ is perfectly captured and the Britten/Wadsworth ‘The Soldier and the Sailor’ pure entertainment.