Playhouse Aires-18th Cent English Theatre Music

Author: 
Lindsay Kemp

Playhouse Aires-18th Cent English Theatre Music

  • Courtship-a-la-Mode
  • (The) Funeral, or Grief-a-la-Mode
  • (The) Humours of Sir John Falstaff
  • She Wou'd and She Wou'd Not
  • (The) Queen's Farewell
  • (The) Queen's Farewell Stomp

The London Oboe Band must come close to being a unique outfit, not only for its unusual combination of (on this occasion eight) oboes, tenor oboes and bassoons, but also because there are surely few cities today capable of providing so many period double-reed players to such a high level of collective tuning and ensemble. For this, their second recording, they follow a similar line to their first (4/95) in offering suites of dances and other instrumental numbers originally intended for the stage and more readily associated with string ensembles, but which could very plausibly have formed the repertoire of a wind band of the middle baroque. Last time the dances were by the Frenchmen Lully and Philidor; now the music comes home, as it were, with dances written for London theatre productions of the very early 1700s by William Croft and James Paisible. Once again the result is a long string of short pieces which gives the disc little real overall shape or direction, but makes attractive company. I find that these catchy English dances in distinctly Purcellian mode have a little more character than the courtly Lully and Philidor (the fact that Paisible was himself a Frenchman notwithstanding), and Croft is certainly a composer worth listening to – his two overtures are among the most striking items on the disc. They are not without competition, however, firstly from Paisible’s solemn march The Queen’s Farewell (composed for the funeral of Queen Mary in 1695) and then from David Gordon’s stealthily humorous modern-day transformation of it in The Queen’s Farewell Stomp. This is not a disc to change your life but it is entertaining nevertheless.'

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