Purcell: Ayres and Songs from Orpheus Britannicus

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LABELS: Arcana
WORKS: Ayres and Songs from Orpheus Britannicus
PERFORMER: Jill Feldman; Nigel North (archlute); Sarah Cunningham (bass viol)
Orpheus Britannicus, an edition of Purcell’s songs written in the last five years of his life but gathered posthumously, contains a variety of styles: ordinary songs, songs written for plays, even concerted extracts from operas and odes. The problem with this recital is that the American soprano Jill Feldman manages to make them all sound the same. Though she has an undeniably pure voice, her manner is so studied that the effect becomes wearying long before the disc ends. She affects an’olde Englishe’ sort of accent, presumably to complement the period instruments on which she is deftly accompanied by Nigel North and Sarah Cunningham. Otherwise, this is a beautifully produced disc (complete with slip case and excellent notes) on which the sound, thanks to the Linn Numerik digital-to-analogue system, is outstandingly clean and spacious. Claire Wrathall