COMPOSERS: Thomas Linley Jr
WORKS: Ode on the Spirits of Shakespeare
PERFORMER: Musicians of the Globe/Philip Pickett
CATALOGUE NO: 446 689-2
Sounds and sweet airs aplenty here. First, Philip Pickett’s Musicians of the Globe offer a highly imaginative ‘Restoration’ version of The Tempest in a cunning collage of music by such as Purcell, Locke, Humfrey and Lully – all part of the transformation of Shakespeare’s last play into something of a late 17th-century hit musical. The grave astringency of Locke’s string writing is answered by the seduction of Purcell’s ‘Soft music on the Rocks’. And a trio of disembodied Ariel songs is confronted by a robust nautical Masque by Pelham Humfrey.
The uses of enchantment become diversified in a lengthy Shakespeare Ode by Thomas Linley, in which the eager and erratic youthful inspiration of this ‘English Mozart’, who drowned aged 22, manifests itself in smartly tailored Handelian choruses and airs garnished with galanterie. An amusingly formulaic libretto flits from the world of Titania, to Macbeth, to Ariel, ‘before you can say come or go’ – and rather too often in the piping voices of four girlish sopranos who are nonetheless ballasted by Pickett’s admirable band. Hilary Finch