Notes and Editorial Reviews
Chamber Airs for a Violin (and Thorough Bass)
Kreeta-Maria Kentala (vn); Lauri Pulakka (vc); Mitzi Meyerson (hpd)
GLOSSA 921806 (66:12)
I’ve twice before reviewed recordings of harpsichord suites by Richard Jones, with Judit Péteri (Hungaroton 32454;
31: 2), and Mitzi Meyerson (Glossa 921805;
34:4). This is the first recording I’ve seen focusing on the composer’s works
for violin and continuo, however. The
are eight sonatas, reflecting structures that include not merely
efforts, but overtures (slow prelude, fast movement, dance movement) and three-movement Italian style concertos (fast-slow-fast), as well. The Italian influence predominates, presumably because of Great Britain’s feting of virtuosic Italian violinist-composers at that time, such as Geminiani and Veracini. But then one comes upon the
of the Sonata No. 2, which is so French
one can practically hear Gluck’s Orfeo tuning his lute around the corner; or the Fifth Sonata’s
, a set of virtuosic variations on a theme that could have been a popular Scottish song of the day. Jones was, as ever, eclectic.
This kind of stylistic hodgepodge is also typical of the entire set, first published in the mid 1730s. The composer is as quirky yet learned as in his keyboard music. Nothing fails to interest, in part because like a good conversationalist he varies his subject, the style and depth of its treatment, and its expressive content, with mercurial fancy. Straightforward themes are enlivened by unusual harmonic progressions or twists of phrase, while rhythms shift smoothly and repeatedly. Figurations are tossed to the continuo, which suddenly, and briefly, becomes an equal partner in the proceedings. If, as concertmaster of the Drury Lane Orchestra, Jones performed his own works, perhaps during theatrical intermissions or set changes, I can only hope he received the applause these charmers deserve.
The rediscovery of this music, at least for listeners rather than antiquarians, is owed to Mitzi Meyerson. She was looking for an original edition of the harpsichord music, and came upon a book that bound together several 18th-century musical publications, including Jones’s
. A photocopy left with her for Finland. Her choice of colleagues was inspired, as Meyerson and Pulakka are both technically and stylistically adroit, while Kentala has a fine tone and a great deal of spirit. The three play as musicians who greatly enjoy and thoroughly know this music. The sound is a bit too glassy for my tastes, but not enough to preclude enjoyment of the disc. Very welcome indeed, and highly recommended.
FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
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