Henry PURCELL (1659-1695)
'Tis Women makes us love [0:49]
Then mad, very mad let us be [1:02]
Fantasia - three parts upon a Ground [4:06]
I'll sail upon the Dog-star [2:10]
Jack, thou'rt a Toper [1:37]
The Triumphing Dance [1:02]
Oh the sweet delights of love [2:57]
Dance of the Bacchanals [1:17]
O Solitude [4:40]
Fantazia upon one note [2;56]
Sing, sing Ye Druids [2:08]
Oft she visits this lov'd mountain [1:50]
Rondeau [0:50]
Beneath a poplar's shadow lay me [1:59]
From silent shades: Bess of Bedlam [4:18]
The Blessed Virgin's Expostulation [6:25]
Dido and Aeneas; Dido's Lament [3:23]
With drooping wings [2:03]
Ophelia's Mad Song [1:17]
Once, twice, thrice [1:26]
Charon the peacful shade invites [1:19]
Ground in c [3:23]
Bedlam Boys [2:16]
The Cruel Mother [2:40]
William and Margret [1:29]
Willow Song [3:33]
Robert JOHNSON (1580-1633)
A Forsaken Lover's Complaint [2:20]
Full fathom five [1:32]
Johann Christoph PEPUSCH (1667-1752) and John GAY (1685-1732)
Grim King of the Ghosts, from The Beggar's Opera [2:34]
Matthew LOCKE (1621-1677)
Curtain tune in The Tempest [2:18]
Thomas RAVENSCROFT (1582-1635)
The Three Ravens [3:53]
Dorothee Mields (soprano)
Lautten Compagney Berlin/Wolfgang Katschner
rec. July 2011, Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin Dahlem
CARUS 83.371 [75:46]
This disc takes as its theme ‘Love’s Madness’ which is a kind of peg on which to hang all manner of things, some relevant and some, frankly, not. Singers like Catherine Bott have devoted a whole disc to Mad Songs, and though the focus there was quite insistent, it bore repeated listening for its variety and also its expressive consistency. Here things are very much looser, and also, it has to be said, very much less impressive.
In any case, there’s a slightly flippant view of the music going on. I don’t know who plays the jew’s harp in Bedlam Boys but no one in Lautten Compagney Berlin seems to be owning up. I admire this band a lot, and have reviewed their discs with considerable pleasure. However here I can’t follow them. Modern-sounding percussion sounds rudely imported into Then mad, very mad let us be. The string Fantasia sounds shrilly performed, then gets increasingly jolly before embracing the fandango or something. Oh for the days when Isolde Menges and William Primrose and their quartet pals took Purcell seriously. I’ll sail upon the Dog-star is performed folklorically and whilst I commend the sense of colour generated, and vitality, I find it plain weird. Dorothee Mields, whose voice is a fine one, stands alone here, surrounded by a misconceived orchestration, doing the best she can. She’s not helped by a billowy recording.
Grim King of the Ghosts is a Broadside Ballad and like a number of these items, nothing to do with Purcell. It gets the Busy Lizzie treatment with a proto-jazz ‘bass solo’ going down: too much, too much. Fortunately, they have the sense to belt up when they perform Ravenscroft’s The Three Ravens. Mields is fine here, in particular.
This weirdly constructed, baffling disc then ends with you-know-what from Dido and Aeneas. Throughout, I’m afraid I simply didn’t understand what point was being made.
Jonathan Woolf  

A weirdly constructed, baffling disc.