One of the most grown-up review sites around

52,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

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

Some items
to consider

Yes we are selling
Acte Prealable again!
£11 post-free

we also sell Skarbo

and Oboe Classics


with Eggebrecht we get all the excitement we can handle

Book 1 Book 2 Book3
Mota The Triptych: -Website

Asmik Grigorian

Breathtaking Performance
controversial staging
Review Westbrook
Review Hedley
Every lover of Salome should see this recording
Mullenger interpretation

absolutely thrilling

immediacy and spontaneity

Schumann Lieder

24 Preludes
one of the finest piano discs

‘Box of Delights.’

J S Bach A New Angle
Organ fans form an orderly queue

a most welcome issue

I enjoyed it tremendously

the finest traditions of the house

music for theorbo
old and new

John Luther Adams
Become Desert
concealing a terrifying message

ground-breaking, winning release

screams quality

Surprise of the month

English Coronation, 1902-1953
magnificent achievement

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing
this through MusicWeb
for 10 postage paid world-wide.

The Scottish Baroque Ensemble in Concert
Tomaso ALBINONI (1671-1750)
Adagio in G minor [7:36]
Johann PACHELBEL (1653-1706)
Canon in D [6:42]
Airs and Dances of Renaissance Scotland (arr. Kenneth Elliott) [18:23]
William McGIBBON (1696-1756)
Sonata No.5 in G [6:04]
Henry PURCELL (1659-1695)
Chaconne in G minor [8:17]
George Frederic HANDEL (1685-1759)
Trio Sonata in C minor, HWV386a [13:29]
Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
12 Divertimenti [17:16]
Scottish Baroque Ensemble/Leonard Friedman
rec. 1976, St Mary’s Church, Haddington, Scotland and Hopetoun House, Queensferry, Edinburgh
CRD 3419 [69:57]

There is little to commend the performances of either of the “pop” pieces here. Not only have Albinoni’s Adagio and Pachelbel’s Canon been recorded off the face of the earth in equally smooth and uneventful performances, but scholarship over the past 40 years has forced us to re-think these works and assess them in a very different way. The best thing that can be said is that these are reminders of an earlier age when it was sufficient to regard this music as merely beautiful, refined and best heard placed within a protective veil of opacity.

It’s a totally different story with the remainder of this programme. For a start the recording location – Hopetoun House – is far more acoustically generous and enticing than the somewhat closed feel of the East Lothian church used for the Albinoni and Pachelbel. Then the Scottish Baroque Ensemble seems to have been far more assertive and stylistically conscious in these performances, even if many of the arrangements seem disconcertingly out of keeping with our present perceptions of stylistic authenticity.

It was the late Kenneth Elliott, a leading academic in the field of 16th century Scottish music, who took a number of pieces from the music of the court of James VI of Scotland and arranged them as a suite for strings very much in the manner of Peter Warlock’s Capriol Suite. The parallels are very strong indeed, and with the nimble, syncopated rhythms of the Galliard and the broad, sweeping stateliness of the Pavan he gives Warlock’s music a real run for its money. This certainly deserves to be heard for, beyond its obvious attractiveness as a piece of string music, it draws attention to an almost wholly forgotten area of the British musical legacy; the courtly music of pre-Union Scotland. No hint here of barren mountains and heather clad lochs, but strong flavours of the French court reminding us how closely the Scottish and the French courts were connected in those pre-Brexit days when, as now, the government in London was deeply mistrusted by the government in Edinburgh.

The departure of King James VI to take up the throne in London in 1603 marked the end of the Scottish court and the disbanding of its musical institution, and little more was heard from Scottish composers for the next century or so. Then, in 1728, the Edinburgh Musical Society came into existence with the aim of reviving musical life amongst the gentry of the city, and it started to attract Scottish players who had some training as composers. One such was the Glasgow-born violinist William McGibbon, who trained in both London and Italy and, like so many of his contemporaries, attempted to imitate the style of Corelli in his orchestral music. In 1963 Kenneth Elliott unearthed McGibbon’s set of six Sonatas for two violins (or flutes) and continuo which had been published in Edinburgh in 1734, and arranged the fifth of these for large orchestra. That is the arrangement heard on this disc, and despite a slightly overblown feel, this is such a tantalising glimpse of the music of this forgotten composer, that one wonders why it is that, even today, nobody has - so far as I know - put the other of McGibbon’s sonatas on to disc in a more authentically-driven performance.

The remainder of the programme moves away from Scotland and arrives, first of all, in London. A beautifully shaped account of the Purcell Chaconne has stood the test of time to sound as convincing here as it did when the recording was first made. Purcell scholarship may again have moved on and taken performance with it, but there is an integrity about the Scottish Baroque Ensemble’s playing which transcends matters of fashion. Even more alluring is the enticing account of Handel’s C minor Trio Sonata. Possibly a little self-indulgent in the slower movements but wanting for nothing in terms of clarity of articulation and thought in the faster ones, this also highlights the fine quality of the original recording and the effectiveness of its digital transfer, with a most vivid stereo spread in the allegro movements where the two solo violins chase each other around at opposite sides of the aural spectrum.

The 12 Divertimenti by Haydn included here are from the very early set of 24 composed around 1765 for two baryons and bass, again arranged in a version for string orchestra. With the opulent recorded sound and the very smooth, blended tone of the Scottish Baroque Ensemble as it was in 1976, Haydn’s music takes on a distinctly romantic sheen; at first hearing, you could easily confuse this for any number of English works for string orchestra from the start of the last century. Nevertheless Leonard Friedman has taken great care in moulding these delightful miniatures – few much more than a minute in length – and gets everything nicely into proportion. I like the rustic quality of No.9, and the wonderful breath of fresh air that sweeps in with number 7, but every one of them is a gem in these clearly very affectionate performances.

Marc Rochester



We are currently offering in excess of 52,000 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

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
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger