Roseingrave Keyboard Works
''The English Orpheus'', Hyperion's series of discs devoted to English music of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, reaches its ninth volume with this collection of keyboard pieces by the Anglo-Irish composer Thomas Roseingrave. If he is remembered at all today, it is for his unconventional life rather than his music, but in one musical form Roseingrave excelled: and it's a shame that Paul Nicholson hasn't included more fugues on this disc. The two double fugues and two of the voluntaries (which are fugal movements) are compact yet perfectly structured examples while the two sprightly organ fugues dance with a buoyancy and nimbleness which set them apart from the fugues of other English composers of the period. Nicholson's precise, beautifully controlled fingerwork gives these a real lift, with the copious trills of the F major perfectly integrated into the line; there is no feeling of fussiness or over-ornateness here.
In fact it is only in the trilling F major Fugue that the charming four-stop chamber organ (a modern instrument by Goetze and Gwynn modelled on surviving English chamber organs of the eighteenth century) reveals its mechanical action. Elsewhere Hyperion have achieved a remarkable feat in recording both the organ and the full-blooded 1778 harpsichord with virtually no extraneous action noise, and only a sharp intake of breath from Nicholson during the second movement of the peculiar D major Concerto indicates any human presence during the recording sessions; it's almost uncanny how all non-musical sounds have been suppressed. Nicholson has also suppressed any desire to assert his own personality on the performances. Always technically secure, he shapes the lines with a natu- ralness which comes from instinct rather than conscious deliberation, and ornamentation blends in so well that you hardly know it's there.'