Robert Woolley - Handel and his English Contemporaries

Published Friday 9th May 2014
Robert Woolley - Handel and his English Contemporaries
Robert Woolley - Handel and his English Contemporaries

STYLE: Classical
RATING 7 7 7 7 7 7 7
LABEL: Regent REGCD382

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

Robert Woolley is one of Europe's leading performers and teachers of the harpsichord and other early keyboard instruments. He studied at the Royal College of Music where he is now Professor of Harpsichord and Clavichord, and was Director of the Early Music Department and Adviser for Early Music from 1985-2006. His discography reveals that he has played on many recordings previously reviewed by Cross Rhythms but this is the first of his solo recordings that has come our way. The featured instrument is the 1766 Thomas Parker organ in the church of St Mary and St Nicholas, Leatherhead, Surrey. This instrument was reconstructed from original casework and pipe work by the organ builders, Goetze & Gwynn, in 2007 and is a rare example of an organ from this period in England. This is the first recording of this delightful 18th century instrument and with Gary Cole as producer/engineer we are given a very clear account of what it can do. The disc includes both original organ music and contemporary 18th century transcriptions of works by Handel, together with original works for organ by the most renowned British composers of Handel's time: William Boyce, Starling Goodwin, Maurice Greene, John James, James Nares, Thomas Roseingrave, John Stanley and William Walond. We get an interesting selection of fantasies, fugues and voluntaries although it has to be said that the general listener may find this a little too specialised to bear repeated listening. However it achieves what it sets out to do in giving us a glimpse into the musical world of Handel and his English contemporaries expertly played on an appropriate instrument.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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