Lost is My Quiet: Duets and Solo Songs sung by Carolyn Sampson and Iestyn Davies

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COMPOSERS: Mendelssohn,Purcell/Britten,Quilter,Schumann
LABELS: BIS
ALBUM TITLE: Lost is My Quiet
WORKS: Duets and Solo Songs: Purcell/Britten: Sound the Trumpet, Beat the Drum; Lost is My Quiet Forever, etc; Mendelssohn: Drei Lieder, Op. 77, etc; Quilter: Love calls through the summer night, etc; Schumann: Drei Duette, Op. 43, etc
PERFORMER: Carolyn Sampson (soprano), Iestyn Davies (countertenor), Joseph Middleton (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: BIS-2279 (hybrid CD/SACD)

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The art of vocal duetting is exemplified at its best in this recital by two of today’s finest British singers, working with an accompanist of equal merit. The title track, Lost is My Quiet, is a Purcell setting heard here (as with the remaining five items by the composer) in Benjamin Britten’s clever realisation: applying considerable judgement to their task, the voices of Carolyn Sampson and Iestyn Davies are well matched here in terms of colour and vibrancy – an accomplishment they deliver throughout.

The programming has been intelligently planned, with roughly equal portions of Purcell/Britten, Mendelssohn, Schumann and Quilter, giving us four groups from three different periods and traditions. As well as duets, each singer has solo items: individual highlights include Sampson moving around the notes of Purcell’s If music be the food of love with impeccable skill, while she makes time stand still in Schumann’s Stille Liebe. Davies shines in Quilter’s perfect setting of Shelley’s Music, when soft voices die and in his in-depth exploration of Purcell’s Music for a While

Yet the most memorable tracks are inevitably the duets, with Joseph Middleton’s striking playing reminding us how essential quality pianism is to such enterprises. Purcell’s naughty Celemene, Mendelssohn’s charming Maiglöckchen und die Blümelein and Quilter’s sultry Weep you no more, sad fountains all hit the spot. The welcome Quilter pieces include an unusual duet from his variously titled operetta Rosmé, staged (as Julia) at Covent Garden in 1936, which has a real Viennese waltz-like lilt to it.

George Hall

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Listen to an excerpt from this recording here.