Search - Emma Curtis & The Frolick, English Anonymous, Thomas Arne :: Calliope: Beautiful Voice, Volume the First - English Songbooks of the 1700s

Calliope: Beautiful Voice, Volume the First - English Songbooks of the 1700s
Emma Curtis & The Frolick, English Anonymous, Thomas Arne
Calliope: Beautiful Voice, Volume the First - English Songbooks of the 1700s
Genres: Special Interest, Pop, Classical
 

      
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A treasure trove for fans of Baroque popular song
Eddie Konczal | 12/02/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

""Calliope: Beautiful Voice," by Emma Curtis and her consort "The Frolick," presents over 2 ½ hours of late Baroque popular song, as collected in the 1739 English songbook "Calliope." This beautifully packaged 2-CD set features 52 songs from many of the major composers who worked in the genre (Boyce, Carey, Corelli, Handel, Purcell) as well as several lesser known ones. The generous booklet includes historical background for the compilation, complete lyrics (in German, French, and English), and insightful commentary by Ms. Curtis.

This collection is clearly a labor of love for Ms. Curtis and company. They have attempted to replicate the sonic environment found in a small meeting hall or private residence, perhaps explaining the predominance of Ms. Curtis' voice in the mix. I would have liked to have heard the musicians better; they play wonderfully, and lutenist Andrew Maginley is a noteworthy soloist in his own right. While Curtis' voice is clearly on the pedestal, she unquestionably delivers the goods. Her voice is not only beautiful but remarkably strong and agile; she delivers the frilliest, most ornate passages with aplomb. She's also confident enough to sing badly on the drinking songs, which were undoubtedly delivered with many a duff note in their day.

Highlights from the collection include the festive opening track "Cupid and Venus," Henry Carey's stately ballad "The Supplication," Handel's humorous (and self-referential) "A Dialogue between Punch and Columbine," Thomas Arne's exuberant "The Miller of Mansfield," and Corelli's "The Praise of Bacchus," which provides a strong finale to the set.

"Calliope: Beautiful Voice" is a veritable feast for fans of early 18th century popular music. Not all these songs are to my taste, particularly those excessively ornamented numbers which showcase Ms. Curtis' vocal talent at the expense of melodic clarity. But as Henry Carey is quoted in the liner notes, "If every Piece should not hit every particular Taste, it is to be consider'd, that Variety makes the Feast." Well said.
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