Rowan Pierce / William Carter / Richard Egarr

Henry Purcell: The Cares of Lovers

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The debut release of talked-about young British soprano Rowan Pierce is not the safe collection of arias, Baroque or otherwise, that one might expect. Instead, she performs a group of pieces that, although hardly unknown, isn't standard concert material, and she does them in an unusual way. These pieces by Henry Purcell, although some of them come from operas or from the vexed genre known as semi-opera, are true songs, straightforward and vocally simple. They are masterful little pieces of text-setting, hovering between declamatory treatments and short airs, and they are by turns humorous and sexy. (Sample Hears not my Phillis.) You can get bigger, more operatic, more emotionally lowdown treatments from any number of sopranos in this repertory, but Pierce's rather pure tone works well because it's suited to the intimate treatment the songs receive here. Listeners may be confused by the "Academy of Ancient Music" text in the graphics, for there is no ensemble here, only Pierce, veteran harpsichordist Richard Egarr, and theorbist/lutenist William Carter. There were no fixed forces for these songs, and larger groups are certainly conceivable, but a performance like this would be easy enough to imagine in a noble household of Purcell's time. Quiet and highly enjoyable.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
The History of Timon of Athens, The Man-Hater, Z. 632
1 01:59
Pausanias, the Betrayer of his Country, Z. 585
2 03:06
3 04:16
The History of King Richard the Second, Z. 581
4 03:04
The Rival Sisters, or The Violence of Love, Z. 609
5 02:36
The Tempest, Z. 631
6 02:11
7 02:27
8 03:29
9 05:33
10 03:00
Bonduca, or The British Heroine, Z. 574
11 02:36
12 02:48
13 02:12
14 07:05
Oedipus, King of Thebes, Z. 583
15 03:06
16 03:39
17 02:39
18 03:50
blue highlight denotes track pick