Concertos and Cantatas ‘after the Italian Manner’
Spiritato and Ciara Hendrick
In February 2020, we embarked on a new adventure; the start of a long-term relationship with award-winning record label Delphian Records.
Joined by mezzo-soprano Ciara Hendrick for The Taste of this Nation - we made a world premiere recording of music by JC Pepusch, William Corbett and Obadiah Shuttleworth. Having first been introduced to Shuttleworth's music by the research of Dr Andrew Pink, we tracked down a dazzling collection of early English cantatas and concertos tucked away in the vaults of the British Library.
Alongside the recording, we performed these remarkable works at Wiltshire Music Centre and Chichester Chamber Concerts. We also gave two workshops, including one for students at the Royal Academy of Music. We're now looking to take the project to new venues.
We’re very lucky to be fully funded thanks to the generous support of Angel Early Music, the Gemma Classical Music Trust, Golsoncott Foundation, The Music Reprieval Trust, The Bishopsdown Trust and the many wonderful donors listed below.
As the group expands the range of the project, we're extremely grateful for any further support, please take a look at how we’d like to thank you or get in touch via our contact page.
Concert performances so far:
15th February 2020 – Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford on Avon
27th February 2020 – Chichester Chamber Concerts, Chichester
16th October 2021 - Oxshott and Cobham Music Society
JC Pepusch; Cantatas III and VI; ‘The Spring’ and ‘Chloe’ from 6 English Cantatas, 1710
O Shuttleworth; Two Concertos; Being the first & eleventh
of ye late
Arcangello Corelli, 1726
JC Pepusch; Cantatas V and VI; ‘Kindly Fate at length release me’ and ‘While pale Britannia pensive sate’ from 6 English Cantatas, 1720
W Corbett; Extracts from Bizzarie Universali , 1728
Shuttleworth, Corbett and Pepusch were direct contemporaries of Handel, highly admired, virtuoso musicians composing and performing in London. Their music is vibrant, entertaining and wonderfully virtuosic. Handel’s arrival in the early 1700s completely changed music in England, yet his colossal reputation overshadows many composers who contributed greatly to the new fashion for Italianate concertos and cantatas.
Many composers of the earlier ‘Purcellian’ style found themselves outmoded almost overnight. Daniel Purcell, himself a composer in both the old and new styles, despaired at the changing fashions (and fortunes) of the London musical scene. In an essay published with his 1713 collection of cantatas ‘after the Italian manner’, he writes;
The Introducing Italian Opera’s upon the English Stage, has so altered the Taste of this Nation, as to MUSICK, that scarce any thing, but what bears some Resemblance of the Italian Style and Manner, is received with Favour or heard with Patience.
With this turbulent context as the background for our recording, the repertoire we have chosen shines a light on the transition between the old traditions of Purcell, and the new Italian style of Corelli and Handel.
Shuttleworth, a virtuoso violinist, is the first native Englishman to compose in the Concerto Grosso style; his two vivacious concerti remain his only extant works. Pepusch, like Handel a European immigrant, embraced the new fashion for the Italian cantata, whilst recognizing the desire of many for a hybrid Anglo-Italian style. Finally William Corbett, the leader of the orchestra of the Haymarket Theatre in London, travelled extensively in Italy, noting down the traditional music and way of playing for his wonderful collection of concertos; Bizzarie Universali.
The Taste of this Nation is generously supported by
Dr Sarah Smalley
Prof. Martin Richards
Dr David Russell
Angel Early Music
The Gemma Classical Music Trust, Registered Charity No. 1121090
The Golsoncott Foundation
The Bishopsdown Trust
The Music Reprieval Trust
Chris Parsons and Eboracum Baroque
Sylvia and Alistair Kewish
the MacAllister family
Dr Andrew Pink
Lyndsay and Jean Marc Granveau
Michael Berman and Katharine Verney
Fay and Tom Moore
Gabriel Mendoza and Maria Luísa Rojas
Augusta McKay Lodge
Dr Mandy Bentley
Thanks also to our anonymous donors