A Night in London
Works by GB Cirri, Geminiani, Handel, JA Hasse, Oswald, Porpora, D Scarlatti
Sandrine Piau, Raquel Camarinha (soprano), Gabriel Pidoux (oboe), Ophélie Gaillard (cello); Pulcinella Orchestra
Aparté AP274 85:22 mins
Ophélie Gaillard’s musical tour of Georgian London takes in a medley of vocal and instrumental works that might have wafted through the city’s streets, theatres and salons in the early decades of the 18th century. This was the period when Londoners adopted ‘the dear Saxon’ George Frideric Handel and welcomed a flurry of Italian musicians who energised ‘the land without music’ with their instrumental virtuosity and the drama and lyricism of opera. The programme skilfully plaits together the various connections between two of the ‘local boys’, Charles Avison and James Oswald, and their émigré friends, colleagues and rivals.
Among the disc’s many highlights are the virtuoso cello concertos by Cirri and Porpora which showcase Gaillard’s athletic technique as well as her extraordinary ability to make the cello sing. Also invigorating is Geminiani’s Concerto Grosso La Folia (a homage to his teacher Corelli) whose vacillating moods and exotic Hispanic rhythms are thrillingly played up by the French-based period ensemble Pulcinella. Composer-cellist James Oswald was inspired by traditional Scottish tunes in four pieces that add a dram of local colour; their wistful melodies are expressively shaped by Gaillard or irresistibly jazzed up by the ensemble. Finally, we’re treated to a quartet of vocal works, including Geminiani’s arrangements of
British folk songs and Handel’s meltingly beautiful lament ‘Credete al mio dolore’ from Alcina – ravishingly sung by Sandrine Piau.