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Ensemble Marsyas - Edinburgh 1742 - All Music

11 September 2017
All Music
James Manheim

Edinburgh in 1742 had a musical scene very different from London's: lacking big public concerts, but offering other attractions such as a folk music tradition that made its way to London mostly in diluted form. This release by the fine historical-instrument group Ensemble Marsyas offers the outlines of a high-society concert that might have been heard in the Scottish capital, and it includes several novelties. One is the very rarely recorded set of Concerti Grossi, Op. 3, by Franceso Barsanti, who joined the migration of Italian musicians to England in the 1710s, got to know Handel's music well, and moved on to Scotland, where the competition was thinner. The horn-dominated concertos could pass for Handel superficially, although they fail to stick in the mind in the same way. More interesting are the brief settings from A Collection of Old Scots Tunes (Barsanti took a liking to folk music), showing the characteristic "Scottish snap" syncopation that became iconic of Scots music. You also get Handel pieces, some of them much more familiar in other contexts. The performances by Ensemble Marsyas are very strong, with precise natural horn duo work by Alec Frank Gemmill and Joseph Walters and a good balance among the elements of the ensemble; the church sound from Linn is clear enough, but lacks warmth. Recommended for those who love Handel and his era.
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Alec Frank-GemmillAlec Frank-Gemmill
Emilie RenardEmilie Renard
Ensemble MarsyasEnsemble Marsyas
George Frideric HandelGeorge Frideric Handel
Peter WhelanPeter Whelan
Edinburgh 1742: Barsanti & HandelEdinburgh 1742: Barsanti & Handel