In 1739 William Boyce (1711-1779) composed his 'Ode for St. Cecelia's Day' to a text by his friend, the amateur poet, John Lockman. In writing this ode Boyce followed in the footsteps of his two chief teachers, Maurice Greene and Johann Pepusch who also wrote music in St. Cecelia's honor. However, his music is more reminiscent of Handel which is not surprising, since while the much younger Boyce was becoming prominent in London's lively music scene, Handel was the most celebrated composer of the time anywhere.
Marriner treats these superb examples of English baroque to exhilarating performances, with the rhythmic subtleties in both fast and slow guaranteed to enchant …the recording has plenty of ambience
Stylistically these works are split into two categories: the symphonies 1 to 4 are written in the style of the Italian opera overture and are all in three movements with Italian tempo indications. The second half of the collection is composed in French style, starting with a stately introduction which is followed by a fugal section.
Carolyn Sampson and Iestyn Davies have collaborated on many occasions in the field of Baroque opera and oratorio, but on this occasion they venture into a somewhat different territory. In the company of Joseph Middleton, they have been exploring the Lieder for one and two voices of Mendelssohn and Schumann, combining them with songs and duets by Roger Quilter. And even though the disc actually opens with a set of Purcell songs – repertoire which both singers have previously made their mark in – they are here performed with the piano accompaniments realized by Benjamin Britten, turning them into something quite new and different.