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The English Nightingale



Piers Adams has worked tirelessly to develop the recorder’s repertoire and reputation as a serious solo instrument, in particular through his researches into forgotten corners of the instrument’s repertoire, and his numerous arrangements and transcriptions from a wide range of genres.

The English Nightingale


“I can commend this disc without the slightest hesitation. This is virtuoso music played with great panache and apparently effortless artistry by a virtuoso of the highest order.” The Recorder Magazine

Adams has decided to begin and end with the Dutch composer so that we actually start with his variations on 'What shall we do this evening?' a piece that encourages rapidity and clarity of articulation, and the projection of charismatic bravura. It's also very fast, and Adams passes the formidable technical demands with scintillating skill. Bassano's Divisions on ‘Onques Amour’ are delightfully insinuating and melodically attractive, whereas William Croft's mini-sonata is succinct, merry, technically fluid and employs the very English ground bass.

Adams and Howard Beach, who plays the three keyboard instruments of harpsichord, organ and fortepiano, selected a violin sonata by Corelli, the F major Op.5 No.4, using this recorder arrangement published in London in 1707. With the warmly communicative cello contribution of David Watkin, the sonata's strength and melodic grace are well brought out. Telemann's 1732 solo Fantasias No.1 and 12 combine technically formidable solo writing with hints of folklore and future Messiaenic birdsong, a mixture that works nicely. Moving on, we reach Ernst Kraehmer, and Vienna in the first quarter of the nineteenth century. This Paganini of the Recorder gives us virtuosic roulades of increasing drama, but also legato charm as well, leavening in time honoured fashion the showy with the heartfelt. Even the droll if generic Rondeau Hongrois offers some witty cimbalom imitation. Bach's Sonata in G minor BWV 1034 is a transcription of the E minor Flute Sonata of around 1720. It works well in this new guise, and is sensitively shaped by Adams.

This well recorded recital is getting on for 25 years old now but Adams these days seems happily possessed of the spirit of eternal youth. Jonathan Woolf,, October 2012