Ensemble Marsyas - Edinburgh 1742 - The Guardian
What went on behind closed doors in Edinburgh in 1742? The Enlightenment city had no concert halls but there was plenty of music afoot. Any self-respecting merchant needed a couple of horn-playing servants to follow him up Arthur’s Seat. Meanwhile, the keen amateurs of the Edinburgh Musical Society imported professional string players from Italy in order to up their own game. One was the composer Francesco Barsanti, who lived in Scotland for eight years and loved the traditional fiddle music he found there. The superstar castrato Tenducci also wound up singing gigs at the society while hiding from scandal abroad. Peter Whelan and his terrific Ensemble Marsyas reconstruct a typical society concert and it’s a rich insight, played with great style and charisma. We get the broad, bright elegance of Barsanti’s Concerti Grossi, his tasteful treatment of old Scots tunes, plus a double horn concerto and an aria from Alcina by Handel, mezzo Emilie Renard fierce as Tenducci.