Richard Jones Chamber Airs

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Richard Jones
LABELS: Glossa
ALBUM TITLE: Richard Jones Chamber Airs
WORKS: Chamber Airs: Sonatas Nos 1-8
PERFORMER: Kreeta-Maria Kentala (violin); Lauri Pulakka (cello); Mitzi Meyerson (harpsichord)


A contemporary of Handel and fellow London resident, the enigmatic Richard Jones was concertmaster of the Drury Lane Orchestra in the mid-18th century and, judging from these tricky yet idiomatic sonatas (recently unearthed by harpsichordist Mitzi Meyerson), he was a dexterous violinist and a characterful, if occasionally wayward, composer. Reviving the sonatas after more than 250 years, this project makes a noteworthy contribution to our understanding of music in Georgian England.

Like Purcell before him, Jones was responsive to the eclectic styles of the London musical scene, and his Chamber Airs flash with Italianate bravura and sway with the graceful rhythms of French courtly dance, specked with quirky English harmonies. Improvisation and control, lyricism and drama, Baroque excess and galant clarity – all blend in a hearty cockney hotchpotch.

Jones could hardly hope for more devoted advocates than Meyerson and her Finnish colleagues, the three instrumentalists accenting the music’s theatrical qualities, variegated colours and special effects. Their sound is robust and sinewy – most effective in the more extrovert movements, if rather too blustery for the lyrical ones. Glossa’s recording is up front and detailed, though the ample church acoustic lacks a certain warmth.


Kate Bolton