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Lost is my quiet: Duets and Solo Songs
Carolyn Sampson (soprano)
Iestyn Davies (countertenor)
Joseph Middleton (piano)
rec. Potton Hall, Westleton, Saxmundham, Suffolk, 2016
Reviewed in surround 5.0
BIS SACD BIS-2279 [79:04]

This is a lovely disc of duets and solos sung by Carolyn Sampson and Iestyn Davies, accompanied by the brilliant Joseph Middleton, already labelled by the New York Times “the perfect accompanist”. Having attended Carolyn Sampson’s baroque concerts in the past I was especially attracted to the Purcell items. Here they are of course accompanied on the modern piano rather than the period instrument group I had heard before. Both Britten’s arrangements and Ms Sampson’s singing quite swept me away. Britten’s musical instincts are, as always, spot on, when he adapts early music and one hears the piano part as fully integrated with Purcell's vocal line. All but one of the Britten settings are for duet so the pleasure was doubled by the extraordinarily beautifully singing of the counter-tenor Iestyn Davies. His voice both contrasts and matches his partner to perfection.

This encouraging start led me to a series of discoveries and rediscoveries. The major discovery was the quality of Mendelssohn's songs which I have seriously neglected over a lifetime of listening. After this set I was keen to explore more. The Quilter songs were likewise almost unknown to me and though they made less impact I was left feeling that here was a composer deserving of attention; friends have repeatedly told me this, I should have listened.

The Schumann was more familiar territory and these gorgeous performances were a welcome reminder of how the Schumann of the symphonies, concertos and chamber music was equally impressive in song. Further to this, Iestyn Davies and Carolyn Sampson displayed a much wider grasp of musical styles than I had previously heard. To date her expertise has been in the baroque, in which she joins the stellar names of Emma Kirkby, Véronique Gens and Stéphanie d'Oustrac in my pantheon of the finest. Like them she is equally at home with the romantic repertoire. Iestyn Davies, as a counter-tenor, was not the voice I expected to hear in these 19th century pieces. He performs superbly well and no one should miss out on this amazingly fine duetting. Each performer has a selection of solos so as to vary the programme. It makes it easy to sit through the entire disc.

The usual superb BIS surround sound is in evidence and sound engineer Jens Braun deserves congratulation for as realistic a sound picture as can be imagined. Almost 80 minutes of unalloyed pleasure.

Dave Billinge

Ich wollt' meine Lieb' ergösse sich, Op. 63. No. 1 [1:51]
Gruss, Op. 63 No. 3 [2:18]
Volkslied, Op. 63 No. 5 [1:46]
Maiglöckchen und die Blümelein, Op. 63 No. 6 [1:42]
Scheidend, Op. 9 No. 6 [3:29]
Neue Liebe, Op. 19a No. 4 [1:54]
Duets (3), Op. 77 [5:57]
Henry PURCELL (1659-1695) realized by Benjamin Britten
Sound the trumpet, beat the drum, Z335 [2:20]
Lost is my quiet Z502 [3:10]
If music be the food of love, third version, Z379C [3:38]
Music for a while, Z583 [3:59]
No, resistance is but vain Z601 [5:00]
Oroonoko: Celemene, pray tell me, Z584 [3:50]
Roger QUILTER (1877-1953)
It was a lover and his lass [2:18]
Weep ye no more, sad fountains [2:17]
Music, when soft voices die, Op. 25 No. 5 [1:33]
Drink to me only [2:22]
Love's Philosophy, Op. 3 No. 1 [1:18]
Love calls through the summer night [4:45]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Drei Duette Op. 43 [5:39]
Nachtlied, Op. 96 No. 1 [2:45]
Stille Liebe, Op. 35 No. 8 [3:30]
Der Einsiedler, Op. 83 No. 3 [3:56]
Aufträge, Op. 77 No. 5 [2:25]
So wahr die Sonne scheinet, Op. 37, No. 12 [2:21]



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