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Pirates of the Baroque
Jean-Marie LECLAIR (1703-1777) Tambourin [2.22]
Giovanni Paolo SIMONETTI (Winfried MICHEL) (b. 1948) Sonata in C minor, LA Burrasca [8.19]
Tomaso ALBINONI (1671-1751)/Remo GIAZOTTO (1910 - 1998) Adagio [8.05]
Francois COUPERIN (1668-1733) arr. Howard BEACH Suite: 'Pirates of the Baroque'  [19.00]
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Concerto Grosso in D minor, RV 565 [8.40]
Tomaso VITALI (1663-1745) Chaconne [8.38]
Giuseppe TARTINI (1692-1770) Senti lo Mare [3.43]
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Concerto Grosso in G major, 'La Tempesta di Mare' RV 433 [6.22]
Red Priest (Piers Adams (recorders); Julia Bishop (violin); Angela East (cello); Howard Beach (harpsichord))
rec. November 2006, Champs Hill, Nr Petworth, England
RPR RP004 [65.02]

Experience Classicsonline


At first sight, you might think that this was a conventional recital of baroque music, though if you recognise the performers that might give the game away. Red Priest are a group who specialise in theatrical and outrageously different interpretations the baroque repertoire.

The list of works reads like a typical recital, with music by Leclair, Simonetti, Albinoni, Couperi, Vivaldi and Tartini. But the title of the CD, 'Pirates of the Baroque' does rather suggest something different. In fact this title comes from Howard Beach's suite based on movements from Couperin's Ordres. Beach's arrangement is not a conventional assemblage, but purports to depict the life of a baroque pirate complete with some vocalisation from Beach and a quote from Handel's Messiah.

In fact, the whole recital is as highly coloured as this might suggest. Red Priest's way with the music employs every expressive, and overly expressive, device ever used in this repertoire. There are bent notes, extreme contrasts of dynamics and tempo, high speeds, swooping lines, exaggerated articulation and other devices, all of which you may find exciting or merely annoying.

This highly coloured attitude to the music applies to the harmonies as well. The group give the impression that they are improvising, perhaps that is the idea. This rather free attitude applies to the material itself so that stray foreign styles and odd quotations are introduced.

There is a genuine idea behind the recital, the way the musicians of the baroque re-used other people's material. But this seems to get lost somewhere, especially as they include a sonata by Simonetti which turns out to be by a modern German called Winfried Michel. They also include the Albinoni Adagio which could be an arrangement of a fragment of real Albinoni by Remo Giazotto, but is probably one of Giazotto's original compositions.

This recital is in a very specific style, which will not appeal to everyone. Red Priest's way with the music can be seen as a way of revitalising the repertoire. Though perhaps the repertoire does not need revitalising.

This disc is undoubtedly exciting and invigorating, perhaps best bought for someone who finds that baroque music is boring. So I'd definitely advise trying before buying.
Robert Hugill

See also review by Jonathan Woolf


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