One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here
Google seem to have closed down local search engines. You can use this FreeFind engine but it is not so comprehensive
You can go to Google itself and enter the search term followed by the search term.


International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Senior Editor: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

Piano Concertos 1 and 2
Surprise Best Seller and now

A Garland for John McCabe


DIETHELM Symphonies

The best Rite of Spring in Years

BACH Magnificat

Brian Symphs 8, 21, 26

Just enjoy it!

La Mer Ticciati




simply marvellous

Outstanding music

Elite treatment

some joyous Gershwin

Bartok String Quartets
uniquely sensitive

Cantatas for Soprano


REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on

Donate and get a free CD


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Support us financially by purchasing this from
Grounds for Pleasure - Keyboard Music from seventeenth century England
see end fo review for track listing
Colin Booth (harpsichord)
rec. 12-14 February 2014, Godney Village Hall, Somerset, UK. DDD

The word ground often crops up in programmes of English music of the 16th and 17th centuries. New Grove defines it thus: "A melody, usually in the bass and hence often called a ground bass (basso ostinato in Italian), recurring many times in succession, accompanied by continuous variation in the upper parts." It could appear in various forms, with various titles, and was one of the most popular genres across Europe. At first blush the repetition of the same bass scheme may seem not very interesting, but in fact many compositions based on a ground belong among the most exciting. Italian composers in particular knew how to use a basso ostinato for brilliant pieces with increasingly virtuosic variations. In France it was especially the chaconne which stirred the imagination of composers. Under the ancien régime hardly an opera was written which did not include a chaconne, mostly in the last act towards the end.

Grounds could be written for almost any instrument or ensemble of instruments. As far as England is concerned, this programme is devoted to keyboard music. However some of the most famous and brilliant grounds were composed for the recorder, the human voice and the viola da gamba — especially by Christopher Simpson. Some specimens of the human voice category are from the pen of Henry Purcell, such as his 'evergreen' Music for a while. He is also represented in this programme of grounds by English composers. That makes this disc all the more attractive as his keyboard works are not part of the standard repertoire of harpsichordists. The music of his contemporaries fares even worse: not that many of the keyboard works by the likes of Blow and Croft are available on disc, let alone played in harpsichord recitals. The Ground from Croft's Suite in A is a particularly nice piece which I had never heard before.

The programme opens with the anonymous My Lady Carey's Dompe which is surely one of the earliest grounds composed in England. It is based on a simple two-note motif. Next follows a brilliant piece by William Byrd, one of the greatest keyboard composers of his time. He also ends the programme. The two grounds Colin Booth has chosen are very different in character. This just confirms that the form of the ground leaves plenty of room for variety.

Basically any formula could be used as a ground. The Leaves Bee Greene by William Inglot attests to that: the tune mostly appears in the bass. In his liner-notes Colin Booth points out that the genre of the ground is not always clearly discernible from a set of variations. That also goes for Orlando Gibbons' Italian Ground. The title refers to a tune better known as More Palatino and used by many composers for variations, sometimes with different titles.

The programme includes various pieces by Purcell, and these are mostly arrangements of theatre music in which he often made use of grounds. Other composers of his time included a ground in some of their suites, such as Blow and Croft.

By including the other movements from those suites and several independent pieces which don't belong to the genre Booth puts the ground in its historical context. A Short Verse by Tomkins and the magnificent Pavan Lord Salisbury by Gibbons are two of the latter. In the Pavan Booth has added variations in the composer's style.

This is is just one of the creative elements in his performances. Another is the choice of harpsichord. It is an original French instrument, signed Nicholas Celini Narboniensis 1661 which combines features of Italian and early French instruments. It has two manuals. "The lower keyboard plays one or both of two sets of strings at normal pitch. (...) The upper keyboard plays a solo register pitched an octave higher. There is no possibility of any kind of coupler mechanism". Booth refers here to the 'mother and child' virginals which were popular in the Low Countries around 1600. It seems that this instrument, with its 'old-fashioned' streaks, is very well suited to the repertoire played here. The sound is unusual but very intriguing and captivating. Its robustness - which points in the direction of Italian harpsichord-making - makes a piece like Gibbons' Pavan Lord Salisbury even more impressive.

This is also due to Colin Booth's outstanding performances. Some pieces are different from how I have heard them before but are certainly convincing. This disc is also a model of intelligent and sensible programming. The liner-notes are informative and helpful to put the music into perspective. The same goes for the extensive notes about the harpsichord and these are accompanied by a beautiful picture.

For harpsichord lovers this is a disc not to be missed.

Johan van Veen

Track listing
My Lady Carey's Dompe [2:05]
William BYRD (1543-1623)
My Lady Nevel's Grownde [5:32]
Thomas TOMKINS (1572-1656)
A Short Verse [2:38]
Grounde [5:34]
Henry PURCELL (1659-1695)
A New Ground (Z T682) [2:24]
John BLOW (1649-1708)
Mortlack's Ground [3:49]
William INGLOT (1554-1621)
The Leaves Bee Greene [4:01]
Orlando GIBBONS (1583-1625)
Italian Ground [2:10]
Pavan Lord Salisbury [6:11]
Suite in d minor [5:31]
Fantasia [3:04]
Ground [2:39]
Chacone (Z T680) [3:15]
A Ground in Gamut (Z 645) [2:07]
William CROFT (1678-1727)
Suite in A [4:49]
Ground in Gamut Flatt [4:48]
Ground in d minor (Z D222) [1:37]
Hornpipe (Z T683) [0:51]
William BYRD
A Grounde [3:44]