A Purcell Songbook
Emma Kirkby
Catalogue No.

The world’s most popular period-instrument soprano, Kirkby’s pure, crystalline sound defined how vocal music of the baroque and earlier eras should sound for a whole generation or more. A pioneer of the Early Music movement, Emma Kirkby presents an intimate concert of both familiar and rare Purcell songs. Lindsay Kemp writes: ‘Even today, nearly half a century after performing styles in music of the Renaissance, Baroque and Classical periods underwent a major upheaval thanks to what has become known as “the early music movement”, there are few alumni of that revolution (some conductors excepted) who could be considered stars, recognised in the wider musical world. That Emma Kirkby is one, and that she has maintained that status without compromise to the style and principles of music-making with which she started out, is testimony not just to the distinctive, pure colouring of her voice but to a steady artistic integrity, personal modesty and generosity that have made her one of the most professionally respected and well-loved figures in the business.’


Hark! Hark! How all things
Crown the altar, deck the shrine
If music be the food of love
Not all my torments
O, O let me weep
I attempt from love’s sickness to fly
Olinda in the shades unseen
Urge me no more
Bess of Bedlam
Lovely, lovely Albina
Sweeter than roses
Dear pretty youth
When first Amintas sued for a kiss
The cares of lovers
Ye gentle spirits of the air
An evening Hymn

Emma Kirkby
Christopher Hogwood
Anthony Rooley
Richard Campbell
Catherine Mackintosh

Recording information

Recording Producer: Peter Wadland
Sound Engineer: John Pellowe
Recording Location: Forde Abbey, Somerset, October 1982


‘The 16 Purcell songs and airs in this recital, some familiar, some rarely heard, are arranged in a pleasing order for continuous listening but, of course, can be selected or re-arranged at the touch of a CD button. Emma Kirkby’s pure white tone is a joy throughout, her diction immaculate and her technique equal to all the demands of Purcell’s many notes to a word… with nice decorations in repeated passages’ Gramophone