COMPOSERS: A Scarlatti,Albinoni,Desmarets,etc,Fede,Lully,Stradella,Vitali,Vivaldi
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Kings Over the Water
PERFORMER: Marie Vassiliou (soprano), Harry Nicoll, Richard Edgar-Wilson (tenor), John Trusler, Andrew Roberts (violin), Marilyn Sansom (cello), Jane Clark (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: JAN D205 (distr. 01522 527530; www.janiculum.co.uk)
This carefully researched programme presents a selection of the music cultivated by the Stuart court in exile, first at St-Germain-en-Laye in the late 17th century and later in Urbino and Rome. An eclectic mix of works includes spirited country dances and popular songs from the homeland alongside tuneful airs and vocal numbers from stage works by French and Italian composers. Among them are Lully, Albinoni, Scarlatti, Vivaldi and the less well-known Henry Desmarets, Innocenzo Fede and Tomaso Vitali.
Such a pot-pourri makes for agreeable if undemanding listening and the performances are competent but never sparkling. The instrumentalists sound rather tentative in the Italian trios and their playing never quite takes wing. And while there is some charming singing, two of the three soloists have a marked vibrato that interferes with the intonation of this exposed, intimate repertoire.
There is, nonetheless, a spirit of camaraderie in these performances – of friends enjoying making music together – and if the disc isn’t as slick as many recent recordings of Baroque repertoire, it has a candid freshness that perhaps captures the spirit of dilettante music-making fostered in the narrow circles of the Stuart family in exile. Kate Bolton