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Classical - Released March 18, 1991 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released November 11, 1987 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released May 1, 1996 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released August 1, 1994 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released October 10, 1995 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Classical - Released December 22, 1997 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released January 1, 1994 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released December 1, 1993 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released February 3, 2012 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released July 1, 1995 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Henry Purcell's music receives a sumptuous presentation on Sylvia McNair's 1994 CD The Echoing Air. Arranged in four parts following the scheme of Baroque entertainment, the concert features both vocal and instrumental pieces. Opening with a vibrant performance of the Staircase Overture, an early piece full of youthful vitality, the program is drawn from a variety of stage works and incidental music, most of which were randomly compiled in Orpheus Britannicus shortly after the composer's death. McNair's pleasant, unaffected voice is perfectly suited to Purcell's pristine lines, and her rhythmic articulations and ornaments are immaculate. Especially noteworthy are her accuracy and sensitivity in bringing off poignant cross relations, a striking feature in many of Purcell's laments. But all the songs benefit from her pure tone and tasteful phrasing. Christopher Hogwood and the Academy of Ancient Music perform on period instruments, and their sound is clear and subtly shaded to set the appropriate mood for each number. Along with Laurence Dreyfus on cello, Hogwood provides an understated continuo on harpsichord and organ, though Paul O'Dette also plays accompaniment on the archlute. Recorded at St. John's, Smith Square, London, the building's live acoustic lends resonance to McNair's clear, ringing tones and the strings' silvery timbre. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 1992 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

The last quarter of the 20th century witnessed a surge of interest in early music and historically informed performances, and one of the Baroque masterpieces that benefitted the most was George Frederick Handel's Messiah, which virtually everyone involved with the movement for authentic period practice reinterpreted and recorded. Neville Marriner and his Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields recorded this engaging version of the popular oratorio in 1992 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Handel's Dublin premiere, and the live performance is notable for its small orchestra and lean chorus, as well as for its revitalized rhythms, crisp sonorities, and spontaneous ornamentation. A streamlined Messiah is closer to Handel's original intentions than the gigantic post-Romantic versions presented by large choral societies and conventional symphony orchestras. Yet because Handel constantly made changes to Messiah and adapted it to changing ensembles and the needs of available vocal soloists, there is no established, final text that can be given an accurate Baroque performance. Marriner's clarification of lines and textures and his scholarly approach put his performance in the authenticist category, even though the Academy plays modern instruments and is not technically a period orchestra. To that end, Marriner's rendition is as close as many groups' performances, and despite the lack of Baroque instrumentation, it still convinces. The soloists are excellent in their embellishment of their arias, and their expressions are reassuringly familiar, though the standout is Anne Sofie von Otter, whose affecting singing is a highlight of this recording. © TiVo
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Classical - Released September 14, 1993 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released January 1, 1993 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released January 1, 1996 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released January 1, 1993 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released April 29, 2016 | Harbinger Records

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Classical - Released February 1, 1997 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

In Rêveries, Sylvia McNair and Roger Vignoles present a comprehensive survey of French mélodies, thoughtfully chosen and tastefully performed. Ranging from the late nineteenth to the early twentieth century, these selections are representative of the delicate and often introspective art songs written by the leading French composers of the period. Claude Debussy's impressionistic Ariettes oubliées establish a languorous mood that lasts for most of the program. Of these six numbers, only the lively "Paysages Belges" provides enough contrast to briefly lift the spell. The four Bizet songs by included are not exceptional pieces, though Adieu de l'hôtesse arabe is the most interesting of the group for its exoticism and inventive harmonic exploration. Olivier Messiaen's subjective Mélodies are simple settings of rather slender lyrics and are perhaps the least satisfying of the songs offered here. Gabriel Fauré's three songs are sentimental and richly harmonized, characteristic of fin-de-siècle expression and taste, though refined and free of gaudiness. The last six songs are fine examples of Francis Poulenc's melodic gifts, sophistication, and wit. The humorous Voyage à Paris is cast in a popular chanson style, and the three surrealistic Métamorphoses bring the program to a close with an ironic but light touch. © TiVo
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Classical - Released September 14, 1993 | Decca

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Classical - Released January 1, 1997 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released January 1, 1998 | Decca Music Group Ltd.