Sunday, February 13, 2011

Arne: Overtures - Collegium Musicum 90, Simon Standage

Thomas Augustine Arne
Collegium Musicum 90, Simon Standage
Chandos CHAN 0722

Collegium Musicum 90 rarely get the adulation they deserve. This anthology of overtures by Arne, featuring a who's who of the English period-instrument scene, is a charming disc of beautifully played and brightly executed performances.

Simon Standage nurtures affectionate interpretations and his violin-playing still perpetuates the impeccable stylishness and musical taste that made his pioneering recordings with Pinnock and Hogwood so enduring.

The Overture to the English comic opera Thomas and Sally (1760) gets things off to a splendid start; its Scotch gavotte features masterful, witty playing from bassoonist Sally Jackson.

The bulk of the disc is devoted to 'Eight Overtures in 8 Parts' that Arne published in 1751. Peter Holman's informative bookletnotes say these overtures were probably extracted from introductions to vocal works, many of which are now lost. Among the finest moments are the vivacious opening Presto of Overture No 3 and the invigorated horn blasts and chuckling oboes in the middle movement of No 4. Trumpeters Crispian Steele-Perkins and David Blackadder provide grandeur in the bright Overture to Arne's setting of Milton's Comus (No 7).

Although those devoted to pleading Arne's cause would love to hear a recording of such fine quality of Comus, or the oratorio Judith, this collection is comfortably among the strongest advocacies of Arne's merits on CD.

Gramophone Magazine

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