...One release from the 15 strong batch of hmGold discs can perhaps be taken as the iconic issue. This is the last recorded recital by Alfred Deller, whose long association with the label [Harmonia Mundi] towards the end of his career is charmingly traced in the (atypically personalized) accompanying booklet by the firm's founder, Bernard Coutaz. The countertenor is even credited by Coutaz with triggering a shift in recording policy: away from organ recitals towards a wider spectrum of Renaissance and Baroque vocal music. There are also generous tributes to Deller from four eminent musical colleagues, Gustav Leonhardt, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Rene Jacobs and Paul Elliott. The singer was 67 when he died in July 1979; just three months previously, he had recorded the present Purcell collection in Provence. Listening to it in this context is to experience a glorious sense of rediscovery. Of course, given his age, you can find the odd note that sounds pinched, the odd decoration that is turned slightly awkwardly, the occasional rather sluggish choice of tempo. The miraculous thing is that this unique voice somehow expands to fill the generous acoustic in which it is recorded, and also that all of the great Purcell favourites that he must have sung countless times - 'Fairest Isle' (King Arthur), 'Music for a while' (Oedipus), the great 'Plaint' from the fairy Queen, to name but three - are sung with transparent freshness and integrity, to say nothing of crystalline diction. He is backed throughout by an all-star ensemble that includes both Wieland Kuijken and William Christie. The Alleluias that end the wonderful Evening Hymn are deeply moving. • Piers Burton-Page, International Record Review, May 2008
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