Further press (Oxford Lieder)

“In between soprano Caroline Taylor and baritone Christopher Purves (looking dashing in a kilt) were accompanied by Christopher Bucknall (harpsichord) and Jonathan Byers (cello) in a selection of songs that concentrated on Purcell’s theatre music but included Down among the Dead Men (attributed to Purcell), Arne’s ‘O ravishing delight’, Edward Johnson’s ‘Eliza is the fairest Queen’ and John Bannister’s Ariel’s Songs. The soprano was meant to be Rowan Pierce, and Caroline Taylor stood in a late notice; she is one of the festival’s young artists whom we saw as Asteria in Cambridge Handel Opera Company’s production of Handel’s Tamerlano [see my review]. Taylor’s performances gave no hint at the last-minute nature of the gig, she was charming and very suggestive in Purcell, brought a nice swagger to ‘Down among the dead men’, and duetted wonderfully with Purves. Her account of Arne’s complex arioso and aria, ‘O ravishing delight’ was finely stylish, whilst she really sold Bannister’s Ariel’s Songs and made them something of a highlight of the evening.” (PLANET HUGILL, Robert Hugill)

Caroline Taylor gave an impressive rendition of the solo songs, especially those by Purcell where her dramatic characterisations were astute and convincing. John Bannister’s three settings of Ariel’s Songs from The Tempest were sung with sparkling finesse, ending in a version of ‘Where the bee sucks’ that is nearly as captivating as that by Thomas Arne, whilst the anonymous ‘Begone sweit night’ received an affecting interpretation on account of Taylor’s pure-voiced nobility that perhaps recalled Purcell’s ‘Evening Hymn’, written for the other end of the day (not performed here but it would have found a natural place in this programme). (SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL, Curtis Rogers)