horizontal line

Set up perfectly by David Gammie’s immersive historical programme note, Thomas Trotter’s From Palaces to Pleasure Gardens reflects the magnetic attraction of Georgian London for indigenous musicians and performer-composers from abroad, to satisfy not only royalty but also to exploit the tastes of the ‘flourishing merchant class with a high disposable income and seemingly insatiable appetite for culture in general, and music in particular’. The epicentre of these indulgences was Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, with an organ over which James Hook, Thomas Arne and John Worgan held sway. With Handel’s and J.C. Bach’s music popular at court, and Handel’s organ concertos creating a form of sensational entr’acte in the theatres where his money-spinning oratorios had replaced his Italian operas, Georgian London buzzed with musical creativity.

Trotter’s tour d’horizon offers music from sacred and secular contexts (it’s sometimes difficult to spot the differences, says Gammie), some of it specially arranged by TT, by Corelli, Hook, Pepusch, Handel, Stanley, J.C. Bach and William Russell. And what better instrument to perform it on than the William Drake-restored 1735 Richard Bridge organ of Christ Church Spitalfields (the largest organ in Britain at the time), with its mahagony tone and the delightful pungency of its meantone temperament, captured here with crystal, feel-the-vibe clarity by Regent’s microphones. Trotter’s peerless playing has a propulsive energy, which, in the music’s grand fanfares, reed solos, echo passages and virtuoso passage-work, reveals why the Georgian organ and its players wowed popular audiences in ways that the genre has struggled to recapture in the last 300 years. A further bonus: all of the registrations are fully documented in the liner notes. In short: the player, the organ, the music and the recording are all… magnificent.

GRAEME KAY Read the full review on Agora Classica

   Read full review   

To continue reading, please upgrade to a premium account. You will have immediate full access.

Read more classical music reviews online here:

Choir & Organ, 2019 - ©Rhinegold Publishing