“Carolyn Sampson's luminescent soprano, with its easeful enunciation, seemingly instinctive ornamentation, and total lack of self-consciousness captures the bittersweet 'affects' of 'Sweeter than Roses', relishes the shifting tones of voice in the long nocturnal, 'From silent shades', and glows against a single theorbo accompaniment in the great 'Evening Hymn'. The instrumental palette, though limited, is exquisitely tuned to Sampson's voice and to the character of each piece.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2007 ****
“It is immediately obvious from the first few songs that this disc is truly special. Carolyn Sampson's singing is deliciously enjoyable for its sweet tuning, flawless intonation, impeccable stylishness, shapely phrasing of melodic lines and textural awareness.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2007
“Her tone is extraordinarily beautiful: natural, warm and unforced, with almost superhuman vocal athleticism” American Record Guide
“It is immediately obvious from the first few songs that this disc is truly special. Carolyn Sampson's singing is deliciously enjoyable for its sweet tuning, flawless intonation, impeccable stylishness, shapely phrasing of melodic lines and textual awareness. Each of these 19 songs, mostly taken from Purcell's operas and music for theatre plays, are given judicious performances.
The programme admirably shows the variety of characteristics and styles in Purcell's writing, and Sampson achieves the perfect degree of joyful radiance, seductiveness, witty comment or bittersweet melancholy in each song. 'Sweeter than roses' is an old warhorse for early music singers, but the poetry has seldom seemed so personal as it does in Sampson's heart-rending rendition. The Plaint from TheFairy Queen is beautifully done and the line 'he's gone and I shall never see him more' is remarkable for its stylish precision and emotional truthfulness (the performance is also notable for Sarah Sexton's superb solo violin-playing).
The supporting players always sound as if they are fully interested in the subtle nuances of the music. Well known favourites such as 'Music for a while', 'Fairest isle' and 'I attempt from love's sickness to fly' are excellently done, but several of the relatively obscure songs ('The fatal hour' and 'From silent shades') are shown to be equally rewarding and engaging. First-class new recordings of Purcell's music are much too rare, and this one deserves to be an enormous success.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010