COMPOSERS: Albinoni,Burgess & Arne,Carey,Eccles,Pasquali,Pepusch
LABELS: The Divine Art
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Cantatas from the Georgian Drawing Room
WORKS: Works by Pepusch, Eccles, Albinoni, Pasquali, Carey, Burgess & Arne
PERFORMER: Margarette Ashton (soprano); Concert Royal
CATALOGUE NO: 2.5001 DDD
The Divine Art is a new company committed to producing new repertoire and promoting new performers: laudable aims in a market where so few duplicate so much. Eight cantatas by figures like Pepusch, Eccles and Arne, with a couple of Italian imports thrown in, are certainly refreshingly unfamiliar and, as elegant trifles, pleasant listening.
The performance reflects domestic music-making in Georgian drawing rooms – often untidy, yet charming nonetheless. Margaret Ashton produces an uncluttered tone, if at the expense of clear words. Obbligato violin and Baroque flute colour the conventional continuo of cello and harpsichord.
While this new venture deserves success, the ‘English Orpheus’, Hyperion’s major contribution to unfolding our hidden musical riches, goes from strength to strength. This second disc devoted to the genius of Thomas Linley (1756-78) is outstanding. Music for The Tempest begins with a thrilling storm, rightly described as ‘one of the most remarkable achievements in English music’. Julia Gooding produces a gloriously luminous tone, sparkling in a vertiginous duet with Paul Goodwin’s oboe, floating effortlessly above the polished yet vibrant string tone of the Parley of Instruments, who themselves have surprises in store in a remarkable overture.
An outstanding disc in a trail-blazing series: highly recommended. George Pratt