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Handel, Eccles, Carr, Paisible and others

Peter Holtslag (recorders) with Elizabeth Kenny (theorbo and archlute)

Royal Academy of Music, London 20 April 2012

Lecture and CD launch of Awakening Princesses AEOLUS 10186

"Peter Holtslag is an accomplished player with acute sensibilities where textures, articulation and phrasing are concerned." (Gramophone)

This was a fascinating lecture/recital on rare 18th-C. English recorders, made by Bressan and Stanesby et al, the instruments released specially for playing and this recording from the Oxford University Bate Collection.

Peter Holtslag discussed their vicissitudes over the centuries and their fragility, with distortions of the internal bore and, in one, a split which opens and shuts again with the weather !

Modern copies and all compromises to accommodate pitches currently favoured in concert and recita work. Keeping to the original pitches entailed reglar tuning and, for the theorbo (arch lute) the use of two differnetly tuned instruments; the recording involved "a lot of tuning", Elizabeth Kenny told us.

The playing was delectable; Holtstag didn't go in for eleborate ornamentation, which is now fashionable. These were straight accounts of scores which might have been played originally in England on these very same instruments. A particular delight was the perfect accord and balance with theorbo alone; a similar pleasure recently enjoyed, with some surprise,on a CD for baroque flute with clavichord.

The CD, launched at this evening event, has varied continuo support from Elizabeth Kenny (theorbo and archlute), Rainer Zipperling (viol and cello) and Carsten Lohff (harpsichord) and is an admirable production in association with Southampton University, with a full and sumptuously illustrated musicological treatise by Peter Holtstag which amplified his lecture, and that will be a valuable reference source for the future, as well as providing an unique opportunity to know how fragile recorders of the period actually sounded.

Peter Grahame Woolf

See peterholtslag@me.com