Wild Men of the Seicento

17th-century music for recorder and harpsichord
Piers Adam, David Wright
d’Anglebert, Bull, Castello, Corelli, van Eyck, Falconieri, Fontana, Pandolfi Mealli, de Selma y Salaverde & Uccellini

Piers Adams and David Wright are pictured on cover and throughout the booklet of their new CD looking like a couple of slightly dangerous outlaws returning from the California Gold Rush without any gold. It turns out though that the wild men of the title are actually the experimental composers of the seventeenth century whose compositions, full of drama, passion and florid ornamentation, give the players ample scope to display their expected virtuosity and imagination. If anything some of these performances are even more over-the-top than usual, notably in Biber’s extraordinary Sonata 3, originally for violin like much of the other music on the CD, which is surely the culmination of the fashion for rapid changes of mood and tempo more usually associated with Castello and his contemporaries.

Piers Adams’s bravura playing is what immediately strikes the ear, with his use of a range of modern (and loud) recorders, but it would be a mistake to ignore David Wright’s wonderfully varied accompaniment which helps to create every change of mood and achieves a remarkable range of dynamics. His harpsichord solos, by D’Anglebert and John Bull, are less obviously adventurous but are to be enjoyed even if they don’t fit in so well with the title of the CD.

Perhaps this is not one for the purists, but as usual with these performers there is plenty of historically informed performance practice underlying the fun and flamboyance.

Victoria Helby