The Dubhlinn Gardens

Cover of a CD devoted to the Dublin pleasure gardens

Anna Besson, Reinoud van Mechelen, A nocte temporis
69:17
Alpha Classics Alpha 447

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This CD is the pet project of the group’s flautist Anna Besson, whose idiomatic traditional approach to the Baroque flute gives these performances a wonderful authenticity. The music belongs to the vogue for music from the ‘celtic fringes’ of the British Isles, which followed the storming success of The Beggar’s Opera with its use of traditional Scotch and Irish melodies. While many of the instrumental tracks have a suitable twinkle in their eye, the songs are less effective. Belgian tenor Reinoud van Mechelen does his very best, but doesn’t seem to ‘get’ the idiom and struggles with the Irish accent the texts seem to cry out for. Perhaps we would have done better with a singing actor type (as featured in the original performances of The Beggar’s Opera) than van Mechelen’s rather cultivated tone and delivery. This is a pity as much of the selected repertoire is unfamiliar and delightfully lyrical, and the overall idea of the project is an exciting one – the vocal tracks however do tend to labour a little or just to sound a bit worthy. In the slower airs, van Mechelen seems more at home, and his account of “Ah! The poor shepherd’s mournful fate” is lovely, although again the ornaments in the unaccompanied “Eileanóir a rún” sound more like Monteverdi than the subtle inflections of the folk singer.

D. James Ross