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Cat. No. CHAN 0666 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 0666 - Arne: Complete Trio Sonatas
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Available From: 12 February 2001
Thomas Augsutine Arne was the son of an upholsterer, best known to musical history for acting as impressario for a season of English opera in 1732-3, in which the young Arne featured prominently. The list of theatre pieces which the latter composed or to which he contributed comes to well over a hundred, and he published a large number of songs from them as well as numerous chamber cantatas, a few large odes, two oratorios and some Catholic church music. Even some of the published instrumental music is drawn from dramatic works, the truly independent instrumental compositions therefore amounting to seven of eight overtures, six keyboard concertos, a violin sonata and seven trio sonatas.

Like his contemporaries Boyce and Stanley, Arne lived during a period when the contrapuntal emphasis of most earlier eighteenth-century music was giving way to a simpler, harmonically based style often called ‘galant’, the precursor of the fully fledged Viennese classical idiom. A great deal of the music written around the middle of the century now seems somewhat uncertain in tone, and Arne, although more adventurous stylistically than either Boyce or Stanley, does not always fully exploit the potential of the newer idiom. Sometimes, for example, the momentum created by an animated discourse above a relatively static bass seems to be cut short through the use of only modest formal structures. On the other hand, the expressive potential of a richer harmonic palette, with melodic lines that swell upon accented dissonances, is clearly being enjoyed and often lends considerable interest to a slow movement.

Arne’s seven sonatas are modest in dimension and deceptively simple in style. And while Arne was unquestionably a modernist, there is more than a hint of Purcell in the set. Arne’s unpretentious informality had a solid weight of tradition behind it.

‘Simon Standage demonstrates period-instrument playing at its very best: not only intimate, incisive, and sometimes abrasively invigorating, but also with transparent purity.’
BBC Music Magazine on CHAN 0541 (Music from the Court of Frederic the Great)

‘Collegium Musicum 90 includes first-rate period musicians. Standage plays with a strong tone and excellent intonation, weaving well-conceived musical ideas with a striking technical grasp.’
American Record Review on CHAN 0541

‘The perfection of the band’s intonation and ensemble playing makes them sovereign in largo and andante movements.’
International Record Review

Simon Standage and his able crew are able to breathe life into Arne’s restrained oeuvre.’
The Strad


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