Click here to return to the CD

Classics Today

June 2000


Priest On The Run

Dorian - 93208 (CD)

Piers Adams is the Andrew Manze of the recorder. And not only that--he's the Paganini too, a consummate artistic interpreter and unabashed virtuoso showoff all in one. But that's not the only thing you'll find on this thoroughly fascinating and entertaining disc from the British-based Baroque quartet Red Priest. Employing recorder, harpsichord, violin, viola da gamba, cello, and bass violin (one player does triple duty on these last three), this group tears up the carpet, rattles the walls, and certainly will shake up its audience with rousing and original renditions of music by some composers we thought were much less, uh, "out there". This isn't one of those groups that takes perfectly good music from another period and mercilessly mauls and hacks it beyond recognition hoping to trick the ever-evasive "youth market" into thinking they really do want to hear old classical stuff; no, these four outstanding musicians simply take what's there--some very well chosen pieces from the 16th and 17th centuries--and play the hell out of it, in the best sense of the word.




Lest you get the mistaken impression thatit's all fireworks, there also are many mellow and lyrical and sweet moments, as in an aria from a Handel trio sonata, one of Handel's most beautiful melodies, here perfectly wrapped in warm, reedy timbres, the melody played on an instrument called a "voice flute". The music of this track just fades away to be picked up again by a solo viola da gamba performing one of Telemann's fantasias. And that's the way of this program: you never know what might happen next. It may be stretching it to describe harpsichordist Julian Rhodes' realization of a 16th century guitar piece by Narváez as "renaissance rock music," or to use the word "orgy" to describe the running figures of a bass line, but there's no doubt that the music and performances on this surprising CD have the power to give a good jolt to jaded modern ears. And that recorder playing simply has to be heard to be believed.


David Vernier

Click here to return to the CD