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Penguin Guide, January 2009

For Naxos bargain price the Scholars Baroque Ensemble offer an outstanding version, stylishly presented with a refreshing vigour in its scholarly approach. The recording too is exceptionally bright and immediate, regularly giving the illusion of a dramatic entertainment on stage. Logically this version, unlike previous ones, presents the purely instrumental numbers designed as interludes for A Midsummer Night’s Dream as an appendix. The humour of the Scent of the Drunken Poet is touched on delightfully without exaggeration, thanks to David van Asch, as is the Dialogue between Corydon and Mopsa, though the counter-tenor, Angus Davidson, has a flutter in the voice that the recording exaggerates. Outstanding among the sopranos are Diane Atherton, singing most beautifully in the Night solo of Act II, and Kym Amps, not only bright and agile in Hark! The Ech’ing Air but making the plaint, O Ever Let Me Weep, of Act V into the emotional high-point of the whole performance. Instrumental playing on period instruments is first rate, and the chorus sings consistently with bright, incisive attack.


"this is exceptionally good value, most of all in the successful way The Scholars kindle that elusive quality of indescribable Englishness"

CD Review

. "of great interest to Purcell and Baroque enthusiasts and is also particularly good value for money"

BBC Music Magazine

"No ardent Purcellian should miss this treat to lighten the darkest mood"

Crescendo (France)

"une interpretation tres vivante et pleine de conviction (a very lively interpretation, full of conviction)"

Preludes et Fugues (France)

"le Scholars Baroque Ensemble reussit une performance magistrale (the Scholars Baroque Ensemble succeed in a masterly performance)"

Steven Ang
The Flying Inkpot

"Performance wise, the ensemble stays on the safe side, which is not really a bad thing. Purcell's music here, at times side-splittingly funny, at times melancholic, is faithfully brought out by the various soloists. Adrian Peacock is a very civilized Drunken Poet, a bad start to the proceedings, but things get better from there: Diane Atherton as Night showed off some beautiful head tones. Robin Doveton's lyric tenor, though showing a little strain in the upper passages, possesses a fine lyric voice that is warm and bright. Angus Davidson's full countertenor is wonderful, though he had some difficulty with the low notes in the Coridon and Mopsa duet (the aforementioned drag scene). David van Asch, so wooden as Aeneas, redeems himself by pulling off Coridon's part with a hilariously exaggerated cockney accent.

The star of the proceedings here, as in the Dido CD [8.553108], is lead soprano Kym Amps. Here, she takes on numerous long and difficult arias, and sings them with supple technical ability. She knows her music well, ornaments liberally but never intrusively, and plays her characters affectingly. From the upbeat numbers, such as A Nymph in Act III, to the sad ones, like Act V's The Plaint, she shows off a big musical and dramatic range, and passed with flying colours.

Many of the choruses were done with only one singer to a part, and the clarity of the music benefits greatly. In fact, their principle of 'minimalism' resulted in clearer choral and orchestral tone colours overall, so much so that I heard many musical nuances and effects that I have never noticed before.

The Scholars Baroque Ensemble has a good version and though some of the parts could have been better, it is a recording that deserves a listen. Plus it is simply cheaper than the rest. 4 out of 5 stars!"

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