PURCELL: Karina Gauvin sings Purcell – With Les Boréades /Francis Colpron – ATMA Classique

by | Mar 23, 2007 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

PURCELL: Karina Gauvin sings Purcell – With Les Boréades /Francis Colpron – ATMA Classique ACD2 2398, 63:00 *****:

Karina Gauvin’s new Purcell recital is as beautiful as can be. Her voice sets new standards for Baroque color and richness, and beyond Baroque, too! The Canadian soprano shows she belongs with the new generation of great Baroque divas, such as her compatriot Marie-Nicole Lemieux, who are making conventional operas of the 19th and 20th centuries, and particularly their performances, seem very tame, indeed. 

The recital begins with the exhilarating strains of “How the night is chac’d away” and goes on to include a number of Purcell classics plus instrumental interludes chosen from The Fairy Queen, King Arthur and other operas. Throughout, Gauvin’s dazzling virtuosity (“Strike the Viol” will take your breath away) is put at the service of a dramatically sophisticated yet simple art, so that even her embellishments seem as if they must have been part of the composer’s original intention and invention. In addition to all the splendid martial, optimistic sounds and tunes, there are quiet sad glories like “Music for a while” from Oedipus, in which Gauvin plumbs the heartbreaking depths of Purcell’s greatness. There is not a routine note from either Gauvin or her partners in any of the all-too-short 63 minutes.

The warm, clear and spacious sound, recorded in the Église Saint-Augustin de Mirabel in Québec, sounds gorgeous of a late night on headphones. The liner notes by François Filitrault are so inviting and pleasantly informative and insightful that you wish they were twice as long. This is absolutely essential for Purcell lovers. And for music lovers, too.

– Laurence Vittes

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