The English Nightingale - Virtuoso Recorder Music from Renaissance to Romantic
Jacob van EYCK (c.1590-1657)
Variations on ‘What Shall We Do This Evening’ (1649-54) [3:10]
Variations on ‘The English Nightingale’ (1649-54) [3:56]
Giovanni BASSANO (c.1550-1617)
Divisions on ‘Onques Amour’ (1591) [3:51]
William CROFT (1678-1727)
Sonata in G major (1700) [2:29]
Arcangelo CORELLI (1653-1713)
Sonata in F major Op.5 No.4 (pub. 1707 in recorder version) [9:56]
Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767)
Fantasia No.12 (1732) [4:32]
Fantasia No.1 (1732) [2:54]
Ernst KAEHMER (1795-1837)
Concert Polonaise [9:06]
Rondeau Hongrois [5:57]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Sonata in G minor BWV 1034 (1720) transcribed for recorder [12:24]
Dario CASTELLO (fl. 1625)
Sonata Prima (1629) [4:31]
Piers Adams (recorder)
Howard Beach (harpsichord, organ and fortepiano)
David Watkin (cello)
rec. November 1989, St. Dunstan’s Church, Cheam
RED PRIEST RP009 [63:45]
These performances were originally recorded back in 1989. The disc title, The English Nightingale, shouldn't be taken to mean that the repertoire is English, rather that van Eyck's compact and scintillating variations set the tone for an hour of 'Renaissance to Romantic' music. Adams has decided to begin and end with the Dutch composer so that we actually start with his variations on 'What shall we do this evening?' a piece that encourages rapidity and clarity of articulation, and the projection of charismatic bravura. It's also very fast, and Adams passes the formidable technical demands with scintillating skill. Bassano's Divisions on ‘Onques Amour’ are delightfully insinuating and melodically attractive, whereas William Croft's mini-sonata is succinct, merry, technically fluid and employs the very English ground bass.
Adams and Howard Beach, who plays the three keyboard instruments of harpsichord, organ and fortepiano, selected a violin sonata by Corelli, the F major Op.5 No.4, using this recorder arrangement published in London in 1707. With the warmly communicative cello contribution of David Watkin, the sonata's strength and melodic grace are well brought out. Telemann's 1732 solo Fantasias No.1 and 12 combine technically formidable solo writing with hints of folklore and future Messiaenic birdsong, a mixture that works nicely. Moving on, we reach Ernst Kraehmer, and Vienna in the first quarter of the nineteenth century. This Paganini of the Recorder gives us virtuosic roulades of increasing drama, but also legato charm as well, leavening in time honoured fashion the showy with the heartfelt. It sounds frighteningly difficult nonetheless. Even the droll if generic Rondeau Hongrois offers some witty cimbalom imitation. Bach's Sonata in G minor BWV 1034 is a transcription of the E minor Flute Sonata of around 1720. It works well in this new guise, and is sensitively shaped by Adams. If you want to follow this with a piece of theatrical self-confidence bordering on braggadocio, you could do a lot worse than play Castello's c.1629 Sonata Prima, an example of brio if ever there was one.
This well recorded recital is getting on for 25 years old now but Adams these days seems happily possessed of the spirit of eternal youth.
Jonathan Woolf 
Warmly communicative … drama and legato charm.