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Death of a pioneering baroque soprano

Judith Nelson is no longer.

The American soprano died on Monday in a home in Albany, aged 73. She had been suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease.

She sang with most of the leading Baroque conductors and ensembles in Europe and the US. Her voice had a lightness and purity that fitted as easily in comedy as in spiritual works. She will be widely mourned.


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  1. Bless her for her work and her lovely voice.

  2. So sad. I loved her singing so very much.

    Trite as the expression is, “sweetness and light” is just the way to describe her sound.

    And she truly was a pathbreaker. So much of Handel’s and Haydn’s writing for soprano had seemed to me tedious and overblown until I heard Judith Nelson sing it. She was the first to introduce early music fans to the great 17th-century singer-composer Barbara Strozzi. It was her recording of Couperin’s Leçons de Ténèbres showed me how French Baroque vocal music could be. And whatever one may think of Joshua Rifkin’s groundbreaking/notorious “B-Minor Madrigal” (I love it), her gloriously pure and pitch-perfect performance of the first soprano part remains a wonder.

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