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William Gatens
American Record Guide, April 2001

"The Toronto-based Aradia Baroque Ensemble specializes in music of 17th Century France and England. Kevin Mallon, their director, is a violinist, singer, and conductor who studied with John Eliot Gardiner and has played with such notable early-music ensembles as Les Arts Florissants, Le Concert Spirituel, and Tafelmusik. The Aradia Ensemble seems to consist mainly of younger artists whose careers will bear watching. The vocal soloists are highly talented early-music singers whose clarity and flexibility are equal to the sometimes athletic demands of this score. The bass voice must have been cultivated to an exceptional extent in Restoration England. The writing for the First and Second Devils (called Spirits in the Toronto manuscript) is daunting, and brought off with great aplomb by Brett Polegato and Paul Grindlay. Polegato also takes the higher-pitched role of Neptune in Act v, displaying a strong but never harsh baritone register. Mezzo-soprano Rosemarie van der Hooft is a creamy-toned Ariel, while sopranos Gillian Keith and Meredith Hall produce a brighter sound as Dorinda and Amphitrite. Tenor Michael Colvin is a strong Aeolus, but it sounds to me as if he is recorded a bit too close: the tone is overwhelming, verging on brashness."



Geoffrey Norris
The Daily Telegraph (Australia), October 2000

"There is some doubt as to whether Purcell himself composed this "semi-opera" derived from Shakespeare's The Tempest. But, whoever wrote it, the music is amazingly accomplished, brim full of character and well worth having in such a lively performance as this one.

"The period instruments of the Toronto-based Aradia Baroque Ensemble provide spry, vibrant accompaniment, including a reconstruction of a 17th-century wind machine for the tempest itself. The voices sing with relish, fluency and refined inflection of the words, and Kevin Mallon directs with a good rhythmic bounce and an acute ear for apt phrasing.

He undisputed Purcell works elsewhere on the disc include the well-known Chacony, the overture to The Indian Queen, the Trumpet Sonata and the beautiful song for two sopranos, tenor, bass and chorus If ever I more riches did desire. Sensitivity and freshness are ideally blended.



David Vernier
ClassicsToday.com, September 2000

"It might seem odd that the main work on a disc featuring works of Purcell probably was not even written by the great 17th-century English master. The music for Thomas Shadwell's 1674 adaptation of Shakespeare's The Tempest has enjoyed years of mistaken attribution, but that doesn't mean its songs, airs, choruses, and instrumental sections aren't well worth hearing. One of the songs, 'Dear pretty youth', is in fact by Purcell, and its performance by soprano Gillian Keith is one of the highlights of this recording. Another, 'Come unto these yellow sands', is a recital favorite, and again we are treated to a fine rendition, this time by mezzo-soprano Rosemarie van der Hooft... The orchestra, a Toronto-based period instrument group, was configured for this recording after Louis XIV's Band of 24 Violins, with the addition of a small group of winds. It's a polished and responsive ensemble that effectively uses its forces to make the most of the score's variety of colors and textures.

"The rest of the program is all Purcell, from the famous Chacony for strings and two works featuring trumpet, to the little "cantata", If ever I more riches did desire, for vocal soloists, chorus, and orchestra. This last is a relatively compact example of Purcell's genius for melody and for dramatic text setting. Much of the solo singing is first rate--the above-mentioned women, as well as tenor Michael Colvin and baritone Brett Polegato, who does an especially nice job with Neptune's aria 'Aeolus, you must appear'. The chorus is quite good.... And by the way, if you're interested in Purcell's trumpet music, there's not very much of it here--only seven-plus minutes, and of that, the solo part is pretty small and not all that interesting. Nevertheless, trumpet soloist Norman Engel delivers clear, flawless, bright tone and pleasingly unmannered performances. Naxos continues to mine some of Canada's relatively untapped musical riches with this almost entirely Canadian cast, and from a performance perspective, it makes a happy listening experience."






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2:42:24 AM, 12 July 2014
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