Purcell: Dido and Aeneas

Purcell Society Edition, volume 3
Edited by Bruce Wood
ISBN 978 0 85249 966 5 | ISMN 979 0 2202 2644 1
xlv (including 6 plates), 112pp. £60 (Hardback)

This beautiful volume contains the most comprehensive appraisal of the sources and review of the current thinking on the work’s genesis you will find in one place. Bruce Wood has a long association with Dido and here, as well as the superb musicology, he makes two musical contributions – he has composed the missing chorus, “Then since our charms have sped”, and adapted a movement from Circe for the ensuing “Groves dance”. I’m surprised – given that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – that he (and The Purcell Society) didn’t go further and supply even more of the missing music; for example, why print an overture almost certainly from the Prologue without any music for the prologue? One excellent feature of the edition is the inclusion of the Tenbury version of the Sorceress music (where the words are sung by a mezzo-soprano rather than a bass, but the string parts are also subtly different) in parallel with the more familiar setting. The inclusion of a realisation of the figured bass makes this also a valuable performing resource. At this price, this impressive volume is an absolute bargain, and I commend it to anyone planning a production of Dido.

Brian Clark