The good people at Divine Art Recordings just sent in a musical care package eminently suited to calm some of our troubled minds so overloaded with the noise emanating these days from our TV sets. I turned off CCN and put on Sonnets, Airs and Dances (dda 25131) of instrumental and vocal music by a most gifted composer heretofore unknown to me: Philip Wood.
The neatly-packaged CD has 24 tracks, and a running time of 71 minutes of sheer delight. It was recorded at different times, though it credits one sound engineer, Richard Scott, to whom I tip my hat for utterly clear, undistorted, intimately comforting sound.
Sonnets, Airs and Dances is a short cycle of four songs for soprano, harpsichord and recorder, set to poetry by Donne, Keats and some of their contemporaries, and interspersed by two instrumental pieces: a Furlana and a Sarabande . Of the six pieces, the unaccompanied O my Blacke Soule is a stunner.
Five Spring Songs adds cello to the recorder, harpsichord, soprano ensemble and salutes in a pantheistic way Spring and Youth in a short set of settings by English poets. Two Motets for solo soprano are lovely settings of Latin texts from the Common Book of Prayer ( sic : actually the Roman liturgy ) Ave Maria and Ave verum corpus . The Partita for Recorder and Cello explores the unlikely pairing with felicitous results.
Countertenor James Bowman commands our attention with the multi-lingual Aria, Recitative and Rondo, accompanied by cellist, Jonathan Price. This is a most theatrical piece that riffs on love spiritual and carnal providing a perfect vehicle for Bowman’s velvety countertenor. After the instrumental for solo recorder, A Lonsdale Dance , the CD ends with a two-movement Concertino for Recorder and String Quartet. Both are light-hearted pieces d’occasion rife with inventiveness.
Composer Wood and his eclectic instrumental and vocal forces – soprano Lesley-Jane Rogers, John Turner, recorder, Harvey Davies, harpsichord, Heather Bills and Jonathan Price, cellists, and countertenor James Bowman who make up the Manchester Camerata Ensemble* provide a most pleasurable listening experience. The six musicians serve this beautiful music with a neat mix of flair and accuracy coupled to that elusive style so difficult to imitate, so impossible to pin down, so quintessentially English.
“This has got to be one of the coolest things... It’s like having high-quality carol singers round your house. It’s a delightful and atmospheric programme of Christmas music.” (The Chronicle) #Christmas #ChristmasCarols divineartrecords.com…
“Rowland makes an excellent argument for Mattheson’s harpsichord suites... stylistically informed performances. Warmly recommended.” (#Fanfare) #Mattheson #harpsichord #Baroque divineartrecords.com… pic.twitter.com/Z9Eh…