Restoration Music for Three Violins, Bass Viol and Continuo

Musica Britannica CIII
Transcribed and edited by Peter Holman and John Cunningham
xlviii (incl. six plates) + 134pp
ISMN 979 0 2202 2517 8; ISBN 978 0 85249 953 5;
ISSN 0580-2954; Stainer & Bell Ltd £99.00

As a violinist, there are few things I enjoy more than playing music for three treble parts, so the contents of this volume (much of which I know from recordings by one of the editors and his ground-breaking Parley of Instruments) are a delight.

There are 11 three-movement fantasia-suites by John Jenkins, a ten-movement suite by Thomas Baltzar, grounds by Bartholomew Isaack and Nicola Matteis, and five sonatas by Gottfried Finger (as well as the sole surviving part from a sixth).

After a broad introduction to the repertoire (including a footnote referring readers to a free download site rather than the English publisher, King’s Music/The Early Music Company, for early Italian sonatas for three violins, while modern German editions are credited in footnote 11), each of the composers and his output are profiled in greater detail.

The music itself is neatly laid out with repeats and ends of movements at line or page breaks. Editorial additions are printed in smaller type and if something is not clear, there are extensive notes on sources and discrepancies in the 18-page critical notes that complete this very handsome volume.

At under £100, this beautiful book is a bargain. Hopefully its true worth will be shown in renewed interest in the repertoire it contains. Although it states that performing material is published simultaneously, I was unable to find it on www.stainer.co.uk – perhaps they are “in preparation”. Let us hope so!

Brian Clark