Sir Colin Davis, Academy Of Saint Martin In The Fields – Purcell: Dido & Aeneas (1970) [Reissue 2016]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DST64 2.0 & 5.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 58:15 minutes | Front/Rear Cover | 2,45 GB
or DSD64 2.0 Stereo (from SACD-ISO to Tracks.dsf) > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | Front/Rear Cover | 2,3 GB
or FLAC Stereo (carefully converted & encoded to tracks) 24bit/96 kHz | Front/Rear Cover | 1,19 GB
Features Stereo and Quadrophonic Surround Sound | Label: PentaTone # PTC 5186230
When Henry Purcell wrote his one and only opera “Dido and Aeneas” in the second half of the seventeenth century, there was no existing opera tradition in England. With a libretto based on Virgil’s Aeneid and its music stylistically close to and derived from the typically English ‘Masque’ form, Purcell created a monumental baroque opera. On this 1970 multi-channel Philips Classics recording, Dido is interpreted by soprano Josephine Veasey. The Academy of St Martin in the Fields and the John Alldis choir are conducted by Sir Colin Davis. The recording has been remastered in 2015 and is now re-released in Pentatones’s Remastered Classics series, which finally gives it the chance to expose its magnificent sound quality.
In 2016, multichannel recording is regarded by classical listeners as state of the art, and some of the finest recordings available have been released in the hybrid SACD format. In 1970, quadraphonic recording was the most advanced technology, and Philips was one of the leading labels developing the process, as shown by this historic recording of Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. This early English opera may not seem like a practical demonstration piece for showing off the depth, wide frequency range, and clarity of Philips’ quadraphonic recording, or, for that matter, PentaTone’s multichannel remastering, considering the rather monochrome sound of strings and continuo. However, Colin Davis and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields delivered with extraordinary energy and precision, and the cast – featuring Josephine Veasey as Dido, John Shirley-Quirk as Aeneas, and Helen Donath as Belinda – sang with crisp diction, beautiful tone, and powerful presence. The spaciousness of the recording is most evident whenever the John Alldis Choir enters with its vigorous choruses, and the dramatic contrasts with the soloists highlight the effectiveness of the innovative microphone placement. Newcomers to this opera may skip ahead to Dido’s famous aria, When I am laid in earth, but because the opera runs less than an hour, the recording deserves a full hearing to reveal its excellence as a performance and as an important artifact from the early days of audiophile sound. Highly recommended.
02. Act 1: Shake The Cloud From Off Your Brow
03. Act 1: Ah! Belinda, I Am Prest With Torment
04. Act 1: Whence Could So Much Virtue Spring?
05. Act 1: See, Your Royal Guest Appears
06. Act 2: Prelude For The Witches
07. Act 2: Wayward Sisters
08. Act 2: In Our Deep Vaulted Cell
09. Act 2: Ritornelle – Thanks To These Lonesome Vales
10. Act 2: Oft She Visits
11. Act 2: Behold, Upon My Bending Spear
12. Act 2: Stay Prince
13. Act 3: Prelude – Come Away, Fellow Sailors
14. Act 3: See The Flags
15. Act 3: Your Counsel All Is Urged In Vain
16. Act 3: Thy Hand Belinda
17. Act 3: When I Am Laid In Earth
18. Act 3: With Dropping Wings
Josephine Veasey – mezzo (Dido)
John Shirley Quirk – baritone (Aeneas)
Helen Donath – soprano (Belinda)
Elizabeth Bainbridge – mezzo soprano (Sorceress)
Delia Wallis – soprano (Second Woman and First Witch)
Gillian Knight – soprano (Second Witch)
Frank Patterson – tenor (Sailor)
Thomas Allen – baritone (Spirit)
Kenneth Heath – cello
Robin McGee – double-bass
John Constable – organ and harpsichord
John Alldis Choir (Courtiers, Witches, and Sailors)
Academy of St Martin in the Fields (Directed by by Sir Neville Marriner) – Conducted by Sir Colin Davis
Recorded in August 1970 at The Walthamstow Town Hall, London, United Kingdom.
Original Quadrophonic Recording from 1970 by Philips Classics.
Remastered in November 2015 for Pentatone in Baarn, The Netherlands.