Notes and Editorial Reviews
The Song of Moses. Let God Arise
Peter Holman, cond; Julia Gooding (sop); Sophie Daneman (sop); Robin Blaze (alt); Andrew King (tn); Andrew Dale Forges (bs); Holst Singers; Parley of Instruments
HELIOS 55302 (66:31)
Thomas Linley’s family came to prominence in the musical and theatrical life of Bath during the second half of the 18th century. The elder Thomas Linley was so successful that he became leader and then musical director of the orchestra in London’s fabled Drury Lane Theatre, then under
the direction of the great David Garrick. He eventually became joint manager at Drury Lane when his son-in-law, the playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan, succeeded Garrick. Meanwhile, the younger Thomas (1756–1778) was so precocious as a violinist and composer that he was sent to Italy, where he studied with Nardini and met the young Mozart. On his return from Italy and after his family’s permanent move to London, young Thomas began composing prolifically. The quality of this music (violin concertos and sonatas, choral works, songs, comic operas, and other theatrical works, very little of which survives) quickly established the younger Linley in London circles. The portrait painted by Gainsborough about 1773 depicts a handsome, pleasant looking youth with a sensitive mouth and keenly intelligent eyes. His death at age twenty-two, in a boating accident while on vacation with his family, was regarded at the time as depriving “the profession of one of its principal ornaments,” and subsequently as one of English music’s greatest losses. This Helios disc reissues recordings (made in 1997 and released by Hyperion the following year) of Linley’s earliest major works that survive, the anthem
Let God Arise
(1773), coupled with one of his last compositions, the oratorio to a text by John Hoadly,
The Song of Moses
Linley’s music sounds very much of its time, a period when William Boyce was Master of the King’s Musick and Thomas Arne’s music embellished the theater. Carl Friedrich Abel and J. C. Bach were building the Hanover Square rooms to accommodate their famous joint concerts, and the long shadow of Handel still loomed. It is no surprise that so young a composer reflects many of these influences. Linley leans more toward the Italianate than toward the early Classicism of J. C. Bach, though many of the solo arias are reminiscent of Bach’s
style. Still, an original voice emerges in these skillfully crafted scores, and it’s obvious that Linley was developing rapidly during the four years that separate the two works. Cunning instrumental effects in the
Song of Moses
chorus, “The Wave Hath Closed,” and the grateful writing for strings in the French overture of
Let God Arise
hint at the magnitude of what may have been lost with Linley’s 20-odd violin concertos (only one of which survives). The Holst Singers negotiate these translucent choral textures with spirit and sympathy. If Linley’s polyphony seldom approaches the summit of High Baroque practice, in movements like “Wonderful Art Thou,” he nevertheless achieves a Handelian grandeur. Peter Holman leads his musicians in lovingly prepared, affecting performances. Among the soloists, Julia Gooding and Sophie Daneman sing the difficult “Jehovah Ever Be My Song” duet from
The Song of Moses
with particular distinction. With so little of Linley’s music extant and its representation on recordings scant, these performances are of compelling interest.
FANFARE: Patrick Rucker
Works on This Recording
The Song of Moses by Thomas Linley Jr.
Julia Gooding (Soprano),
Andrew King (Tenor),
Sophie Daneman (Soprano),
Andrew Dale Forbes (Bass)
Parley of Instruments,
Written: 1777; England
Length: 42 Minutes 15 Secs.
Let God arise by Thomas Linley Jr.
Parley of Instruments
Written: 1773; England
Length: 20 Minutes 9 Secs.
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