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: Volume the First

Cupid and Venus [2:34]
Henry PURCELL (1659-1695)

Celia has a thousand charms [4:55]
Henry CAREY (c.1690-1743)

The Supplication [1:29]
A New Song [2:11]
George Frederick HANDEL [1685-1759]

A Dialogue Between Punch & Columine [3:40]
Henry HOLCOMBE [c.1693-c.1752]

The Forsaken Nymph [6:42]
George Frederick HANDEL [1685-1759]

A favourite Aire in Ariadne [2:18]
John Frederick LAMPE [c.1703-1751]

The Coquet [1:40]
Francesco GEMINIANI [1687-1762]

A Song to a Favourite Minuet of Geminiani’s [1:05]

The Country Girl’s Farewel [3:04]
George Frederick HANDEL [1685-1759]

A favourite Aire in Alcina [2:05]
John Ernest GALLIARD [c.1687-1749]

The Early Horn [4:57]
George MUNRO [d.1731]

Dying Swan [3:25]
Giovanni Battista Pescetti [c.1704-c.1766]

The Charmer [2:15]
Henry HOLCOMBE [c.1693-c.1752]

The Syren of the Stage [2:38]
Henry CAREY (c.1690-1743)

Sad Musidora [1:53]
John Frederick LAMPE [c.1703-1751]

The Dying Nymph [2:29]

Down the Burn Davie [5:14]
Thomas ARNE [1710-1778]

The Miller of Mansfield [2:39]
? Sir John VANBRUGH [1664-1726]

The Coquet [1:34]

The Forsaken Maid [3:37]
Maurice GREENE [1696-1755]

The Fly [0:45]
David DIGARD [d.1745]

My Jolly Companion [1:45]
John Frederick LAMPE [c.1703-1751]

Solitary Lover [5:25]
John Ernest GALLIARD [c.1687-1749]

Oft on the Troubled Ocean [2:08]
George Frederick HANDEL [1685-1759]

The Melancholy Nymph [3:29]
Henry CAREY (c.1690-1743)

The Lady’s Lamentation for the Loss of Senesino [6:06]
John Frederick LAMPE [c.1703-1751]

The Wand’ring Lover [3:22]

Linco’s Advice to Damon [1:44]
Henry CAREY (c.1690-1743)

Gen’rous Love [1:44]
The Midsummer Wish [4:09]

A New Cantata [2:08]

The Apology [2:49]
ALLAN RAMSAY [1686-1758]

Corn Riggs are Bonny [2:27]
Henry CAREY (c.1690-1743)

A Pastoral [1:24]
The Maid’s Husband [2:00]
John Frederick LAMPE [c.1703-1751]

The Plain Dealer [2:29]
David DIGARD [d.1745]

The Generous Confession [4:16]

The Despairing Lover [2:17]
Henry CAREY (c.1690-1743)

Stand by! Clear the way! [1:36]
Maurice GREENE [1696-1755]

True Love [3:27]
Jonathan MARTIN [c.1705-1737]

The Address to Sleep [2:16]
Henry BURGESS [fl.1738-1765]

England’s Lamentation for the Loss of Farinelli [3:37]
John Frederick LAMPE [c.1703-1751]

On Gallant Moor of Moorhall [1:44]

Dumbarton’s Dream [2:32]
Henry CAREY (c.1690-1743)

A Song [2:31]
John Frederick LAMPE [c.1703-1751]

The Maid’s Request [1:53]
William BOYCE [1711-1779]

The Modest Petition [1:30]
Maurice GREENE [1696-1755]

The Flea [1:15]
? John BORMAN [c.1651-1739]

The Thirsty Toper [4:21]
Arcangelo CORELLI [1653-1713]

The Praise of Bacchus [3:02]
Emma Curtis ((contralto), The Frolick:
Andrew Maginley (baroque lute, baroque guitar, theorbo),
Markus Mőllenbe
ck (baroque cello),
Giovanni Pessi (baroque harp),
Muriel Bardon, Natia Gvilava (baroque violins),
Annie Laflamme (transverse flute)
rec.15-16, 20, 22 December 2005, 12 January 2006,
Herz Jesu Kirche, Stuttgart. DDD
AVIE AV2102 [2CDs 73:26 + 73:33]

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In 1739 there was published in London, by one "Henry Roberts, engraver, printseller, and musick-seller", a work called Calliope or English Harmony, the full title of which described it as ‘a collection of the most celebrated English and Scots songs, neatly engrav’d and embelish’d with designs adapted to the subject of each song taken from the compositions of the best masters, in the most correct manner with the thorough bass and transpositions for the flute proper for all teachers, scholars, and lovers of musick; printed on a fine paper, on each side which renders the undertaking more compleat than any thing of the kind ever publish’d’.

Emma Curtis and The Frolick here present the listener with a substantial selection from Calliope. The first volume of Calliope contains some two hundred songs. Some fit new English words to popular Italian airs, or even to fashionable instrumental melodies (as in ‘The Praise of Bacchus’, in which words are fitted to the Minuet from Corelli’s Concerto Grosso Opus 6 no. 10); quite a number are songs for the theatre, either to be sung between the acts or as part of the narrative itself; some are traditional Scots songs. Curtis has evidently taken the sensible view that some of those ‘teachers, scholars, and lovers of musick’ at whom Calliope was aimed would be likely to perform these songs in a domestic setting. As she writes in her notes: "We play instruments that would have then been used in London, and have sought to re-create the atmosphere of an evening entertainment in a London home".

The results are hugely enjoyable. Emma Curtis presently works as a member of the solo opera ensemble at the Staatstheater Stuttgart. Though she specialises in the Baroque, her repertoire also includes some Verdi, Debussy and Schoenberg roles. Her theatrical experience and her versatility serve her well in this project. She characterises the songs well, from the melodramatic anguish of Lampe’s ‘The Wand’ring Lover’ to the raucous booziness of Digard’s ‘My Jolly Companion’, from the elegant formality of Carey’s miniature epithalamion ‘A Song’ (‘Cupid god of Gay desires’) to the melancholy of Holcombe’s ‘The Forsaken Nymph’.

The Frolick offer fine, sensitive accompaniment, not least in the lute playing of the excellent Andrew Maginley and Giovanna Pessi’s delicate work at the harp. Indeed, given the fact that so many of these songs are inevitably in much the same musical idiom, I did wonder whether the insertion of the occasional purely instrumental interlude might not have made for a more balanced programme. It is probably best to regard these two CDs as ones to dip into now and then (I shall probably do so quite often!) rather than as a set to be listened to straight through.

Emma Curtis provides a useful general introduction on Calliope, and on the theatrical/musical context of the songs. She also provides brief – but interesting –notes on individual songs and composers.

I can add a few details to one or two of her notes, as regards the sung texts. The words of ‘The Coquet’, the setting of which is rather doubtfully attributed to Sir John Vanbrugh, are by Ambrose Philips (they are included in The Poems, ed. M. C. Segan, 1937); the words of Greene’s popular song ‘The Fly’ are probably by William Oldys (1696-1761); the words of ‘The Midsummer Wish’ were published in 1721 as the work of Samuel Croxall (d.1752), appearing amongst the occasional poems attached to his dramatic entertainment The Fair Circassian in 1721; the words of ‘The Generous Confession’ are by Soame Jenyns (1704-1787), appearing as ‘Chloe to Strephon’ in his Works of 1790.

Full texts of all the songs are provided (though a couple are in the wrong order) in the handsome booklet of over 80 pages.

One of the songs performed here – and performed quite movingly - is George Munro’s (or Monro’s ) ‘Dying Swan’. In her notes to it, Emma Curtis mentions some earlier English uses (Chaucer, Shakespeare, Orlando Gibbons) of the myth of the swan that sings only once, just before its death. A later use of the same idea might relevantly be mentioned. Coleridge wrote an epigram on a performer whose work he had not enjoyed (‘On a Voluntary Singer’):
Swans sing before they die; - ’twere no bad thing
Did certain persons die before they sing.

I can assure readers that they will not be moved to harbour such wicked sentiments when they listen to this selection from Calliope. Emma Curtis sings with both appropriate gusto and fitting delicacy, with both humour and subtlety, as she explores the range of attitudes and emotions to be found amongst these songs. While it would be wrong to claim that there are great neglected masterpieces here, it does need to be said that there is much in the songs (and other music) of eighteenth century London that is of far greater interest than many conventional accounts would suggest. If this repertoire is new to you, I urge you to let Emma Curtis and The Frolick effect an introduction. If you know some of these songs, you will surely want to possess so engaging a recording of them.

Glyn Pursglove


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