Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Some items
to consider

in the first division

extraordinary by any standards

An excellent disc

a new benchmark

summation of a lifetime’s experience.

Piano Concertos 1 and 2
Surprise Best Seller and now

A Garland for John McCabe


DIETHELM Symphonies

The best Rite of Spring in Years

BACH Magnificat

Brian Symphs 8, 21, 26

Just enjoy it!

La Mer Ticciati








Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Henry PURCELL (1659-1695)
Dido and Aeneas, Z626 - Opera in three acts (1689) [52:55]
Dido: Solenn’ Lavanant Linke (mezzo)
Belinda: Yeree Suh (soprano)
Aeneas: Alejandro Meerapfel (baritone)
Second Woman: Mariana Flores (soprano)
Sorceress: Fabián Schofrin (counter-tenor)
First Witch: Magali Arnault (soprano)
Second Witch: Mariana Flores (soprano)
Spirit: Christophe Carré (counter-tenor)
First Sailor: Valerio Contaldo (tenor)
Capella Mediterranea, Nouvelle Ménestrandie/Leonardo Garcia Alarcón
rec. Conservatoire de Musique de Genève, 2009, DDD.
Booklet includes libretto in English and French.
AMBRONAY AMY022 [52:55]

Experience Classicsonline

There’s a bright focus and intensity to the slow opening section of the Overture and the inner parts are telling. The tension is also carried over into the fast section. Belinda’s opening arioso from Yeree Suh is rather mousy, but it’s no part of her function to upstage Dido. Later her ‘Pursue thy conquest, love’ is suitably eager. The court chorus is light, comely and youthful. Dido’s opening aria from Solenn’ Lavanant Linke also has fresh projection, youthfulness, even some athleticism. Her long melisma on ‘languish’ is finely accomplished. But this is stately emotion, more recollected in tranquillity than presently experienced. At the time of writing (March 2011) you can hear this entire aria through this link to the artist’s website. Her Dido is at first more queenly than womanly. This is partly because of the sense of sepulchral foreboding created by Leonardo Garcia Alarcón’s sudden use here of chamber organ in the continuo. In the ensuing recitative (tr. 6), bravely and successfully taken with flexibility of tempo and quite slowly at times by Alarcón, Dido’s womanly qualities emerge. This is just in time to provide a good match for the fruity baritone of Alejandro Meerapfel’s Aeneas which is both self-obsessed and curiously attractive.

The orchestra’s strings begin to be doubled by oboes from ‘Fear no danger’ (tr. 7) and often thereafter to roseate effect. The chorus is more steady in tempo when there is this instrumental doubling. ‘To the hills and the vales’ is a well behaved celebration but the following Triumphing Dance is archetypically courtly, being lightly articulated and neat in rhythm. The Act 2 Prelude has a quietly sad, baleful cast but there’s nothing quiet about Fabián Schofrin’s Sorceress who is for me too hammy in articulation. His top F on ‘all’ at the end of his first arioso (tr.14 1:33) might be a werewolf howl. The use of a counter-tenor is a miscasting anyway for the Sorceress has exactly the same vocal range as Dido and is in the opera a parallel force, a Queen of Evil, so should also be sung by a mezzo. The First and Second Witches’ duets, over-nasal, are like baying hyenas if tempered by occasional glimpses of fine singing such as the First Witch’s sustained high F sharp on ‘cry’ (tr. 18 0:34). The pity of it is Alarcón’s technique in slowing down and speeding up tempo within these duets is effective in its menace but this is marred by the megaphone-like distortion of the voice production. The witches’ cackling ‘ha-has’ are more acceptable but the echo part of the Echo Chorus, placed at the extreme edges of the stereo spectrum, is curiously free from nasality. The the sound from the ‘deep vaulted cell’ could arguably be more sinister and distorted. This echo is, however, correctly maintained in the following Echo Dance.

In Act 2 Scene 2 the holiday atmosphere of Belinda’s ‘Thanks to these lonesome vales’ is very engaging. However, the Second Woman’s ‘Oft she visits this lov’d mountain’ is taken at too fast a tempo to get words and story across; this dramatic approach actually decreases the dramatic impact. Dido revels in her description of thunder as much as Aeneas does in his prowess as a hunter. On the other hand Belinda and the court’s hastening to town is a touch polite. The Spirit of the Sorceress manages, unlike most counter-tenors in this role, not to sound at all eerie. Aeneas’s response, on the other hand, is given fine emotive colour by Meerapfel, bringing lyricism and pathos to his arioso.

Act 3 Scene 1’s sailors, a solo song, chorus and dance, are trimly done. The reappearance of the Sorceress and witches, on the other hand, offers further animal imitations from the latter at the cries of ‘Elissa’s ruin’d’ (tr. 31 from 0:22) and ugly distortion of voice from the former at ‘Our next motion must be’. You might find this a lively contrast and diversion but I’d suggest it makes for uncomfortable repeated listening. As if in compensation, though not consistency, the witches’ chorus ‘Destruction’s our delight’ is oddly chaste. The witches’ dance is more effectively grisly. Theeffcet is heightened by the spotlighting of the second violins’ chromatic slide towards the end of the opening phrase (tr. 34 0:09) and by its dysfunctional shifts of tempo.

The final scene opens with two memorably sad and lovely soft top Gs from Linke’s Dido on ‘heav’n’ (tr. 35 0:24, 0:37) followed by a harder-edged, imperial and forced third G (0:46), a pattern repeated in her lament’s series of ‘Remember me’ though with this time the very final one more softly shaded. This adds to the poignancy. The duet with Aeneas has by turns a fiery determination and a sorrowful recall of past happiness. As with much of the recitative Alarcón dares to take it slowly and thus effectively conveys the anguish of both parties. The chorus ‘Great minds against themselves conspire’ begins in the manner of epic statement only to fall away into desolation. The opera’s closing funeral rite chorus, ‘With drooping wings ye Cupids come’, has a seemly dignity and decorum if its body of sound, with oboes doubling strings again, is a touch too full to convey tenderness.

Here, then, is a Dido and Aeneas that is good in parts. In the final reckoning it is not as emotionally convincing as the account directed by Steven Devine and Elizabeth Kenny which in Sarah Connolly’s Dido and Gerald Finley’s Aeneas offers the finest realizations of the principals I have heard in recent years (Chandos CHAN 0757, review). That said, two of Alarcón’s practices, quite different to those of Devine and Kenny, I rather like. Firstly Alarcón is pretty minimalist and unfussy about ornamentation which I find quite refreshing; Kenny and Devine overplay it. Secondly Alarcón chooses to present only Purcell’s extant music for the opera; Kenny and Devine add extra pieces as indicated by the libretto and sometimes at whim. On the other hand Alarcón’s total timing of 52:55 looks rather short measure in comparison with the Chandos 69:49. I think then it’s fair to suggest Alarcón has missed the opportunity to offer us as a bonus a little more from Purcell’s ample portfolio of incidental music.

Michael Greenhalgh


































































Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.