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Title - 'The Complete Recitals'
Artist - Emma Kirkby

For those not in the classical know, Dame (Carolyn) Emma Kirkby, DBE is an English soprano and one of the world's most renowned early music specialists who has sung on well over a hundred recordings. Indeed, she was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 2007 Queen's Birthday Honors List.

Having studied classics at Oxford and received vocal training from Jessica Cash, it's amazing to think that originally, she had no expectations of becoming a professional singer. As a classics student at Oxford and then a schoolteacher she sang for pleasure in choirs and small groups, always feeling at home most in Renaissance and Baroque repertoire.

But oh my, how things can change! Emma Kirkby has become a legend within the concept of music as beginning not with the singer but with the words; her name is always and above all associated with pure sound. And this incredible 12-CD The Complete Recitals proves just that as it brings together Emma Kirkby’s complete L'Oiseau-Lyre recitals in a single set.

Including such Composers as: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Georg Friedrich Händel, Johann Sebastian Bach and Henry Purcell, the 12 CDs contained within this delightful and so comprehensive collection are: The Lady Musick, Pastoral Dialogues, Amorous Dialogues, Duetti Da Camera, Purcell (Songs & Airs), J.S. Bach, J.S. Bach (Wedding Cantatas), Handel - Arne - Lampe (Arias), Handel (Italian Cantatas HWV 81, 132b, 170 & 171), Handel (Italian Cantatas HWV 136a & 137, etc), Mozart and Mozart (Arias).

In closing, and as much as Emma Kirkby still prefers live concerts over studio recording sessions, especially giving the pleasure of repeating programs with colleagues; every occasion, every venue and every audience combining to create something new for them from this wonderful repertoire, these studio albums are a delight to behold.

This 12-CD The Complete Recitals comes complete with a 44 page booklet featuring the complete tracklisting, recordings information, rare photographs and even an essay by Lindsay Kemp. Accompanied in the main by lutenist Anthony Rooley; who you might also know she had a long-term relationship with, and with whom she has a son, the set features works by all the aforementioned Composers, as well as rarely recorded works by Edwards, Campion, Dowland, Morley, Ferrabosco and many more.

With Emma Kirkby's intelligence, her uniquely beautiful voice and her brilliant performing technique, whether it be her live concerts or her impressive array of studio albums, her beautiful, simply stunning musicianship is undeniable. Listening to her is an unforgettable experience that I highly recommend to everyone reading this review today.