The English soprano Carolyn Sampson was born in Bedford in 1974 and read music at Birmingham University; rather than taking the usual route of postgraduate study at a conservatoire, she honed her performing skills in the Birmingham-based early music ensemble Ex Cathedra (with whom she has recorded several acclaimed discs of French baroque arias) and later with The Sixteen, The Tallis Scholars and Polyphony, going on to make her operatic debut in a small role in Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea at English National Opera. She would go on to have great success with the company as Handel’s Semele and Pamina in The Magic Flute, though opera accounts for a relatively small part of her repertoire – she is particularly acclaimed in Bach’s sacred music, and has recorded numerous discs of cantatas with Masaaki Suzuki and Bach Collegium Japan, as well as the Christmas Oratorio, St John Passion and Mass in B minor.
Sampson is also a keen recitalist, and works regularly with the British pianist Joseph Middleton: their discography includes an album based around Schubert’s women, Fleurs (a Gramophone Awards finalist in 2015), and Lost is my Quiet (a programme of duets and solo songs with Middleton and countertenor Iestyn Davies, released on BIS in 2017).
Further Reading: Carolyn Sampson
Joined by soprano Carolyn Sampson, Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra continue their Mahler cycle with an exquisitely-detailed performance of the Fourth Symphony.
The soprano talks to Katherine about her Nietzsche-inspired recital of songs depicting vulnerable women by Debussy, Koechlin, Poulenc, Schumann and others, out now on BIS.