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Best of the opera,
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This review is from: Beggars Opera/Original Songs & Airs (Barlow, Kwella, Elliot) (Audio CD)Jeremy Barlow and the Broadside band have always been a force to be reckoned with and this recording is no exception.
In fact this recording is most enjoyable and has great atmosphere. The project is approached with a view to authenticity in terms of both instruments and performance.
Jeremy Barlow uses baroque flute, piccolo flute, flageolet and clavecin. Alastair Mclachlan is on baroque violin and rebec. Rosemary Thorndycraft plays bass viol and cornemuse and George Weigand is on lute, mandolin and baroque guitar.
Also present are Patrizia Kwella as soprano and Paul Elliot as tenor.
This was originally released in1982 and remastered and re issued here and the sound is very good.
The original Beggar's Opera is not like an ordinary opera. But instead it is a musical play known as a ballad opera. It was presented in three acts. The play was written in 1728 by John Gay. The music was in fact a compilation of popular tunes arranged by Johann Christian Pepusch. The opera is the only surviving comedy ballad opera from a period when they were very popular in England.
The Broadside Band offer us their take on some of the tunes that appeared in the opera.
Pepusch took the tunes from various sources including popular broadside ballads, opera arias, church hymns and folk tunes. He then added new words.
At the time, Italian opera had become very popular in London. Gay was having a comic parody of the Italian opera style. The whole thing satirised Italian opera.
In Italian opera there were mystical characters, epic themes and grand music that were supported by the rich and influential people of the time, Here Gay uses popular and familiar tunes along with characters that were ordinary people. Gay and Pepusch even used extracted popular tunes from genuine opera composers that had filtered down to the poorer people in society. The audience already knew the tunes and identified with the characters,
The story attacked current themes of politics, corruption and injustice in society.
The Broadside band have not recorded a complete version of the opera here but this is an exciting project. There are some interesting versions of some folk songs and popular tunes of the eighteenth century.
There is no attempt to re create the actual play here. There is no story or acting. This is purely the music. And this outstanding release adds more credibility to the professional quality of the Broadside Band and their long catalogue of wonderful recordings.