WORKS: Works by Locke, Blow, Matteis, Geminiani, Purcell, Uccellini, Simpson, Marini
PERFORMER: Palladian Ensemble
CATALOGUE NO: CKD 010 DDD
These four players, of recorders, violin, various string basses and theorbo/guitar, met as students, have won two Young Artists’ awards and now present a stunning debut recording. Don’t be put off by lesser known composers – Uccellini, Matteis, Marini – among Locke, Blow and Purcell, or by the forbiddingly formal pose on the sleeve.
This is sparkling playing with the sense of uninhibited joy which only technical mastery and unrestrained imagination can generate. There’s a strong folk influence – one of their composers, Geminiani, knew the Irish folk fiddler O’Carolan – and they play an air on the bergamasque A pretty hard ground after the Scotch humour, and Scots airs set by Geminiani himself with positively folk-like exuberance.
Some of the disc, though, is art music of the highest order, with an exquisite broken-consort dance suite by Locke, a deliciously languid slow air in a sonata by Blow, and Purcell’s effortlessly fluent Two in one upon a ground. Repeated (‘ground’) basses serve to unify the whole programme, each variation capping the virtuosity of the last. The effect, from such minimal resources, is breathtaking – ‘moving affections and exciting passions with an excess of pleasure’ indeed. George Pratt