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CD Review

Henry Purcell

Dido and Aeneas

  • Kirsten Flagstad (Dido)
  • Thomas Hemsley (Aeneas)
  • Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (Belinda, Spirit, Second Lady)
  • Arda Mandikian (Sorceress)
  • David Lloyd (Sailor)
  • Eilidh McNab (First Lady)
  • Sheila Rex (First Witch)
  • Anna Pollak (Second Witch)
  • Chorus of courtiers, witches, sailors and cupids
  • Richard Wagner: "Götterdämmerung" Act III Scene III, Immolation of the Gods *
The Mermaid Singers and Orchestra/Geraint Jones
* Philharmonia Orchestra/Wilhelm Furtwängler
Nimbus NI7956 76m ADD Mono Rec. 1948/52

Yet again, we are offered a new incarnation of these two classic Flagstad recordings that remain as timeless classics of their age. Purcell's "Dido" is one of those great works which is still not accorded the importance it is due and in this magnificent interpretation, it certainly comes to life as one of the great classic operas of all time.

Flagstad is joined by that other towering giant Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and the equally impressive Thomas Hemsley with singing that is quite well nigh unsurpassable. They are coaxed along by the unassuming Geraint Jones who brings his Mermaid Singers and Orchestra to life in the very respectable 1952 recording. Connoisseurs will obviously want to own a modern recording of this work but as a supplementary historical edition, this recording is essential.

Not much can be said what has already been said on Flagstad's interpretation of the final scene of Wagner's "Ring". Suffice to say that I listened yet again entranced by the awe inspiring vocal power of this great soprano's range imagining what it was like for those lucky enough to hear her live in the theatre. This is fairytale stuff and one must congratulate Nimbus for making this seminal recording available once again.

The Prima Voce series is renowned for its fine remasterings and detailed notes, both of which are not in short supply here. The Flagstad biography is especially poignant to read. Really I do feel humbled to even comment about this great disc which should be in anyone's collection without any undue delay.

Copyright © 2009, Gerald Fenech