WORKS: Chaconne from Dioclesian
PERFORMER: Piers Adams (recorders), Julia Bishop (violin), Angela East (cello, viol, bass violin), Julian Rhodes (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: URCD 141
Red Priest is the racy name of a Baroque chamber ensemble consisting of the trio sonata configuration of recorder (Piers Adams), violin (Julia Bishop), harpsichord (Julian Rhodes) and string bass (Angela East). The eye-catching title of the disc refers to Vivaldi’s disappearance to Vienna at the end of his life, and the booklet notes consist only of a fanciful tale of the composer rushing to the harbour, trying to make the decision of where to go. It’s a rather clever way of referring to the extremely varied contents.
These come from Spain (Ortiz, Narváez), Germany (Telemann and Schmelzer) and England (Purcell and Handel) as well as Italy itself (Dario Castello, Uccellini, Monteverdi/Cazzati and Vivaldi himself). The manner of delivery of the faster music can only be described as fashionably manic – the opening piece, Dario Castello’s Sonata Terza, certainly gives the impression of breathless running, generating images of that terrifying film Don’t Look Now.
Faint hearts should prepare themselves for very un-Baroque glissandi, whoops, and even a fade-out, and music students should ignore the titles that Red Priest has invented for some pieces. But there is something deeply and genuinely emotive in the slower music (Purcell’s Chaconne from Dioclesian, for instance), and in any case it would be churlish not to admire the upfront sparkle of the whole enterprise. Stephen Pettitt