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New Selection: The Genteel Companion--recorder recital by Richard Harvey

The MHS Review 387 Vol. 11 No.9, 1987

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Frank Cooper


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In the late18th century, the recorder lost ground to the flute--and had to wait until the early 20th century for its revival at the hand (and lips) of a crafty English genius, Arnold Doltmetsch. Since then the recorder has

flourishcd. There now are excellent players as well as makers almost everywhere! One of the best, Friedrich von Heune of Boston, is the honoree of this release. Richard Harvey, our brilliant per­former acknowledges von Heune as "my friend," and it is easy to hear why. The tre­ble descant, and sopranino recorders after J .H. Rottenburgh, T. Stanesby, Jr., J.C. and J. Denner, E. Terton, and S. Ganassi which are featured reveal their makers' mastery as audible as that of the player.

That great instruments inspire those fortunate enough to play them is evidenced here. Mr. Harvey reaches considerable heights in his lovely eight-item panorama of the recorder and it repertoire--backed up by seven of the finest (and friendliest, l'm told) young players of original instruments. The two keyboards, by the way, are especially nice to hear: a silvery-toned harpsichord after Jan Ruckers by Oxford's Ferguson Hoey and a beautifully blended chamber organ by London's Justin Stillman. They, like the strings involved, are perfect partners-in-sound for Mr. von Heune's recorders.

The music covers a lot of ground, from the traditional Greensleeves (which Henry VIII claimed as his own) and just-right sonatas by such giants as Handel, Vivaldi, and Leclair to fascinating works by such lesser-known men as Croft, Finger, van Eyck, and Dalla Casa. Occasional demands on virtuosity find Mr. Harvey's tongue flut­tering like a hummingbird. His articulation and intonation leave the hearer breathless with admiration. He must enjoy these works as fully as he does his instruments, so exquisitely does he play them all!

Boxgrove Priory in Sussex, the site for this state-of-the-art digital recording, has the sort of resonance which casts a warm glow over the entire proceedings, for which we should be grateful. The perfor­mances, therefore, spund natural and not as if under some sort of X ray.

review of A Recorder Recital by Richard Harvey THE GENTEEL COMPANION

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