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Come to the River / Apollo's Fire


Release Date: 06/14/2011 
Label:  Avie   Catalog #: 2205   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Traditional
Conductor:  Jeannette Sorrell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Apollo's Fire
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



COME TO THE RIVER: AN EARLY AMERICAN GATHERING Jeanette Sorrell, cond; Apollo’s Fire AVIE AV2205 (65:56 Text and Translation)


The Apollo’s Fire ensemble is now well established in the early-music scene on these shores, and it continues to branch out into increasingly diverse repertoire. Virtually all of its prior releases have been reviewed in these pages, most quite favorably, and founder and ensemble leader Jeannette Sorrell has enjoyed interviews with James Reel in Read more style="font-style:italic">Fanfare 23:6, Christopher Williams in 25:1, and Brian Robins in 28:2. In addition to having undertaken such major projects as Monteverdi’s Vespers and English-language recordings of his Orfeo and of J. S. Bach’s St. John Passion , as well as the Brandenburg Concertos , plus some symphonies and piano concerti by Mozart, the ensemble has issued the almost obligatory Christmas music disc, and also a collection of 13 traditional British and early American songs on an album titled Scarborough Fayre (not to be confused with the Simon and Garfunkel song, of course). The present CD is a sequel to that, again featuring folk instruments such as the hammered dulcimer, pennywhistle, fiddle, guitar, and banjo in addition to harpsichord, violin, and cello. This time the music is mostly American, though two items originate from the 1611 collection Melismata of Englishman Thomas Ravenscroft (c.1582–1635).


According to the booklet notes, this release seeks to present “a kaleidoscope of the styles one might find on a journey through early 19th-century rural America.” The selections are divided into three thematic groups, titled “Appalachian Wagon Train,” “Love & Death,” and “Revival Meeting,” and encompass traditional folk fiddle tunes, songs, ballads, early bluegrass (track 11), and that distinctive staple of Southern hymnody, the “shape-note” hymn (track 14). Informative notes explain each of these in some detail. Six of the 19 tracks are instrumental music, two are a cappella vocal selections, and the remainder have vocals with instrumental accompaniment.


These are wonderfully exuberant performances—even including a quite realistic imitation of a barking dog in track 5—if occasionally just a tad more formally stylized than one would encounter from non-classically trained folk musicians. Aside from presenting simply delightful and sometimes touching music, a release such as this is particularly valuable for two other reasons. First, in contrast to the synthetic imitative claptrap that now so often passes on disc for the real article, it illustrates the nature of genuine folk music; by way of analogy, compare an assemble-it-yourself piece of particleboard furniture to an authentic Shaker chair or cabinet. Second, it serves to remind us that, however highly developed the art of classical music becomes, it necessarily has its roots in folk music; whenever it severs itself from those roots (I have in mind various avant-garde compositional schools past and present) it may for a time sustain itself artificially by exotic means, but it will fail to grow and thrive and will ultimately become a lifeless shell. Here we have music that offers life, and does so abundantly. The recorded sound is up close and vivid; texts are provided. Unhesitatingly recommended.


FANFARE: James A. Altena
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Works on This Recording

1. Appalachian Barn Dance by Traditional
Conductor:  Jeannette Sorrell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Apollo's Fire
2. Nobody But the Baby by Traditional
Conductor:  Jeannette Sorrell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Apollo's Fire
3. Hold on by Traditional
Conductor:  Jeannette Sorrell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Apollo's Fire
4. The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night by Traditional
Conductor:  Jeannette Sorrell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Apollo's Fire
5. Willie, Prithee Goe to Bed by Traditional
Conductor:  Jeannette Sorrell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Apollo's Fire
6. Ways of the World by Traditional
Conductor:  Jeannette Sorrell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Apollo's Fire
7. The three ravens by Traditional
Conductor:  Jeannette Sorrell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Apollo's Fire
Period: Baroque 
Written: England 
8. Lark in the Morning by Traditional
Conductor:  Jeannette Sorrell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Apollo's Fire
9. Old Virginny by Traditional
Conductor:  Jeannette Sorrell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Apollo's Fire
10. The Girl Who Broke My Heart by Traditional
Conductor:  Jeannette Sorrell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Apollo's Fire
11. Wild Bill Jones by Traditional
Conductor:  Jeannette Sorrell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Apollo's Fire
12. Wayfaring stranger by Traditional
Conductor:  Jeannette Sorrell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Apollo's Fire
Written: USA 
13. Glory in the Meeting House by Traditional
Conductor:  Jeannette Sorrell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Apollo's Fire
14. Return again by Traditional
Conductor:  Jeannette Sorrell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Apollo's Fire
15. What wondrous love is this by Traditional
Conductor:  Jeannette Sorrell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Apollo's Fire
16. Dances from New England and Ireland by Traditional
Conductor:  Jeannette Sorrell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Apollo's Fire
17. Morning Trumpet by Traditional
Conductor:  Jeannette Sorrell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Apollo's Fire
18. Down in the River to Pray by Traditional
Conductor:  Jeannette Sorrell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Apollo's Fire
19. Old Joe Clark by Traditional
Conductor:  Jeannette Sorrell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Apollo's Fire

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