Nightmare in Venice

Mad, bad and deliciously dangerous to know – living on the dark side with Red Priest

Record and Artist Details

Composer or Director: Antonio Vivaldi, Henry Purcell, Jean-Marie Leclair, Robert II Johnson, Giovanni Paolo Cima, Dario Castello, Nicholas L'Estrange, Anonymous

Genre:

Chamber

Label: Dorian

Media Format: CD or Download

Mastering:

Stereo
DDD

Catalogue Number: DOR90305

Tracks:

Composition Artist Credit
(12) Concerti grossi, '(L')estro armonico' Antonio Vivaldi Composer
Red Priest
(The) Fairy Queen Red Priest
Henry Purcell Composer
(6) Concerti for Flute and Strings Antonio Vivaldi Composer
Red Priest
(The) Fairy Queen Red Priest
Henry Purcell Composer
Scylla et Glaucus Jean-Marie Leclair Composer
Red Priest
Scylla et Glaucus Jean-Marie Leclair Composer
Red Priest
(3) Masque Dances Robert II Johnson Composer
Red Priest
Sonata a 3 Red Priest
Giovanni Paolo Cima Composer
(The) Fairy Queen Red Priest
Henry Purcell Composer
(The) Fairy Queen Red Priest
Henry Purcell Composer
(The) Fairy Queen Henry Purcell Composer
Red Priest
(3) Masque Dances Red Priest
Robert II Johnson Composer
Scylla et Glaucus Jean-Marie Leclair Composer
Red Priest
Sonata decima Red Priest
Dario Castello Composer
(The) Furies Red Priest
Nicholas L'Estrange Composer
(The) Fairy Queen Henry Purcell Composer
Red Priest
(La) Folia Anonymous Composer
Red Priest
(3) Masque Dances Robert II Johnson Composer
Red Priest
Scylla et Glaucus Jean-Marie Leclair Composer
Red Priest
In their first CD, ‘Priest on the Run’ (2/99), Red Priest set their stall out as a group intent on pushing the expressive devices of Baroque music to its limits, and then some. With more than a few wacky ideas, an impish sense of humour and the astonishing virtuosity of recorder-player Piers Adams backed up by the gameness of his colleagues, it made for an exciting ride, even if it was not one that one would like to take too regularly.

Now they return with ‘Nightmare in Venice’, in which Vivaldi’s demonic aspect provides an entrée into a selection of music inspired by witches, satyrs, furies, demons and the like. So, alongside Vivaldi’s dream-depiction La notte, we get suitably nefarious dances drawn from the 17th-century English stage, some ‘demon airs’ from Leclair’s only opera, and a free (very free, actually) adaptation of Corelli’s La folia variations, all recast for recorder, flute, cello and harpsichord. Less obviously on the dark side are a concerto from Vivaldi’s Op 3, and 17th-century sonatas in phantasticus style by Cima and Castello.

Once more there is a whole load of fun being had here, and a listener would have to be a most unresponsive character not to let out the odd gasp and guffaw. As well as the vivid contrasts and strongly bent tempi, there are vocal contributions (hisses, cat-noises and cackles in Johnson’s ‘Witches’ Dance’), instrumental effects (teeth-jangling sul ponticello in the same piece, computer-like detached recorder notes in Purcell’s ‘Fairy Dance’), and quite a few spooky vibrati and twiddles. There are also some unconventional interpolations, including at least two unscheduled visits to later centuries.

Such imagination is admirable, but I am sure I am not alone in wanting to look beyond these for signs of real musicianship, and in movements such as Purcell’s sweet and touching ‘Rondeau’ or the Larghetto of the Vivaldi RV522, Red Priest show they can engage at a deeper level; the Vivaldi in particular is movingly shaped. Red Priest sound like distinctly dangerous company; but perhaps an occasional night out with them would be no bad thing.

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