Stolen Away To Elfland
Alfred Deller, celebrated English countertenor, who was equally adept at singing English folk music and early music, is here enchanting in these songs by Purcell. There is a curious sort of limpid ethereal floating to his voice, something other-worldly, which takes this listener, at least out of the 21st century, and makes me feel I have somehow been transported to Arcadia, a land of impossible green-ness and clarity, where people might indeed be spirited away by Faerie Folk! The voice is disembodied, appearing to magically float in the air. Listen to it too long at times of betwixt and between (dusk and dawn) and you might be stolen away by elves, like Thomas A Rhymer! The richly pure vocals float above the most warmly embodied of string instruments, a simple cello accompaniment, which is twined about by harpsichord on some tracks. Angelic bliss indeed.
Forgive the purple prose, but Deller’s voice is like a fantastical invention, produced not through technical artifice (twiddled synthetically in a recording studio) but somehow, impossibly, by Deller himself. He doesn’t seem to strain to produce the sound, it is a natural artifice!
Loss of a star as not all of the songs are equally riveting and valid – this is down to the specific Purcell pieces, rather than to Deller. The 7 minute long From Rosy Bow’rs in particular lasted every one of its 7 minutes, whereas the other long track, The Plaint was sheer delight.