The Harmonious Society of Tickle-fiddle Gentlemen, Robert Rawson
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The most striking aspect of this fabulous recording is the amazing diversity of Finger’s music. Having previously only known his sonatas for two pairs of treble instruments and continuo, it was a revelation to hear him move from almost Purcellian in the opening vocal exhortation into a Schmelzer-like sonata for three choirs, then a much more modern sounding Sonata a5 with Handelian counterpoint, a Lullian Chaconne a4, some French-inspired but English-sounding music for The Mourning Bride, and so on. His Sonata 9 is a re-working of “How happy the Lover” from Purcell’s King Arthur. The final track, “Morpheus, gentle god”, is scored for four voices with recorder consort and continuo, and reveals how effective Finger was at setting English – no wonder he was shocked at coming fourth (of four!) in the competition based on The Judgement of Paris.
Throughout the recording, the Tickle -Fiddlers are in very fine form, vocally and instrumentally. The speeds seem ideal, the recording bright, and the booklet notes are informative without bcoming stodgy. All in all, a most enjoyable experience – I hope Rawson & Co. will seek out more gems and share them with us!