In Ainsley's winsome recital, Tippett and Purcell meet as timeless contemporaries. The tenor's sad, elfin sprightliness suits Tippett's Songs for Ariel as much as Purcell's Ah How Sweet. His burning, ardent tone pleads as effectively in The Heart's Assurance as in What Shall I Do?
Ainsley's voice is in prime form—it is effortless at the top of his range, and the seamless shift from full voice to falsetto is magical. He is abetted to the peerless song accompanist Iain Burnside, whose sensitivity to the texts equals the singer's. A wonderful selection of poets, from Alun Lewis to the comical Mr D'Urfey, makes this as valuable to connoisseurs of literature as of the voice.