Collection: Pirates of the Baroque

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Albiononi (arr. Giazotto),F Couperin,Leclair,Simonetti,Tartini,Vitali,Vivaldi
LABELS: Red Priest Recordings
WORKS: Works by Leclair, Simonetti, Albiononi (arr. Giazotto), F Couperin, Vivaldi, Vitali, Tartini
PERFORMER: Red Priest: Piers Adams (recorders), Julia Bishop (violin), Angela East (cello), Howard Beach (harpsichord)


I had to renounce some cherished prejudices when I witnessed, at a Red Priest concert, a standing ovation from 600 people aged eight to 80. Their playing is ‘historically informed’ but thrust to, and often far beyond, conventional stylistic limits – these are not so much ‘arrangements’ as metamorphoses.

Here are Leclair’s Tambourin, hectically fast and quirky; a ‘Storm at Sea’ (RV433) wilder than Vivaldi could ever have conceived it and with interpolated sea shanties; a day in the life of a Pirate, culled from Couperin, with raucous vocal interjections; a newly-found gem from Tartini; an unashamed modern pastiche. All are played with spectacular virtuosity and mischievous wit.

Red Priest go outrageously over-the-top, but return from the other side with previously unimagined fun and delight. Occasionally they try too hard; a rattling Vivaldi allegro is interrupted solely to allow another musical excess.


But it’s all a splendidly irreverent antidote to music under a glass case, advancing the spirit of David Munrow’s ‘Pied Piper’. If you’re not riveted, your children will be. George Pratt