For music-lovers who grew up between the 1950s and the 1970s, Alfred Deller (1912–1979) was the embodiment of the countertenor voice, just as Segovia was the guitar and Casals was the cello. Many who heard his earliest LPs will have applauded the words that Sir Michael Tippett uttered on first hearing Deller live, as early as 1944: ‘In that moment, the centuries rolled back.’ Two of those early LPs – or portions of them – are newly remastered and reissued here in a unique compilation.
Entirely new to CD are the opening works of Buxtehude which originally accompanied the performance of Bach’s Magnificat, directed by Pierre Colombo, on another recent Eloquence issue (484 0411). For many critics it was the lesser-known Buxtehude items, recorded by L’Oiseau-Lyre in 1955, that made the LP desirable, not only for the relative unfamiliarity of the Jubilate and In dulci jubilo settings, but for the chance to enjoy Deller’s artistry at the peak of his form (a later, stereo recording is vocally drier and tighter).
Introduced by a pair of fantasias from the Milanese lutenist Canova, Deller adds a sequence of songs by Thomas Campion, encompassing not only the classic Never Weather-beaten Sail but also sacred items such as Author of Light. Again the stereo remakes do not recapture the agility and purity of Deller’s voice at its finest as heard here, delicate, clear and ringing all at once.
Five years after founding the Deller Consort in 1950, Deller made his first recording of the last and finest of the six odes written by Purcell for Queen Mary, Come, ye Sons of Art. The performance was directed by another English ‘house artist’ for L’Oiseau-Lyre and early-music specialist, Anthony Lewis, and originally issued as a 10-inch EP. This is its first complete CD reissue on Decca.
‘Anthony Lewis shows us again his complete understanding of Purcell’s style … there could be no better introduction to Purcell’s music.’ Gramophone, October 1954 (Purcell)
‘A stunning performance … The orchestral playing is a pure joy … Alfred Deller and John Whitworth manage [‘Sound the trumpet’] with extraordinary grace and vocal coloration … a lovely record; highly recommended.’ High Fidelity, May 1955 (Purcell)