Australia's early music scene is not much known in the West, but this disc from the consistently good Tall Poppies label suggests that it's worth investigation. The group is not exactly homegrown; all the players except for keyboardist Jacqueline Ogeil were trained in the Netherlands. But they've come up with a satisfying program that has eluded most of the European Baroque chamber groups. Henry Purcell's music is usually programmed by itself or with that of other English composers, but he was a composer who closely followed both Italian and French tastes, and much is to be gained by setting him in contrast with the music he imitated. Australian group Arcadia juxtaposes Purcell with works by Arcangelo Corelli, selecting parallel compositions: trio sonatas and then works by each composer based on the chaconne or ciacona pattern, creatively reworked by each with his own purposes in mind. The Corelli Sonata (Ciacona) in G major, No. 12/Op. 2, is an unusually interesting piece in itself, not an athletic variation set but a sort of abstract compendium of the moves a pair of violins could make while using only basic diatonic harmonies. The parallel Purcell piece (track 15) has something of the same quality, and the single Purcell trio sonata included is clearly modeled on Corelli. But of course Purcell adds a quintessentially British melancholy entirely unlike Corelli's sunny tone. The program concludes with a suite by Jean-Marie Leclair called the Première Recréation de Musique, Op. 6, which itself ends with a chaconne of the more conventional type.
The end result is an hour of music that is very attractively played and seems to be organically connected while offering variety at every turn. The only complaint is the sound, as unforgivingly bright as an uncovered fluorescent bulb. The recording locale was a vast, apparently stone hall at a Catholic university in Australia, not a good choice for these true chamber compositions.
|Sonate da chiesa a tre, for 2 violins, violone (or archlute) & organ in A minor, Op. 1/4|
|Sonate da camera a tre, for 2 violins & violone (or harpsichord) in E major, Op. 2/10|
|Sonate da camera a tre, for 2 violins & violone (or harpsichord) in G major ("Ciacona"), Op. 2/12||Arcadia||3:40|
|Sonata in 3 parts for two violins, bass viol & continuo No. 1 in G minor, Z. 790|
|Sonata in 4 parts for two violins, bass viol & continuo No.10 in D major, Z. 811||Arcadia||8:21|
|Première récréation de musique d'une exécution facile, suite for 2 violins & continuo in D major, Op. 6|
|Gracieusement, san Lenteur||Arcadia||4:50|