The Brook Street Band

In 2009, The Brook Street Band presented Handel’s Lost English Cantatas, performed on period instruments

An exciting discovery for Handel’s Commemorative Year

During 2009, The Brook Street Band, with singers Nicki Kennedy (Soprano) and Sally Bruce-Payne (alto), gave recitals of three superb English Cantatas not performed together since Handel’s time and released the CD, Handel's English Cantatas (AVIE Records), with world premiere recordings of these rare works, together with the first ever published edition of these cantatas.

Tatty Theo, acclaimed cellist and Handel scholar, and founder of The Brook Street Band, had researched the lost manuscripts, which were an amazing discovery.

Handel’s Italian cantatas, composed mainly in Italy, 1707-10, are very well known. Once he had settled in England, Handel moved on to other genres, writing only the occasional Italian cantata, as that language was becoming unfashionable with English audiences.

Handel’s English Cantatas were new incarnations for familiar melodies and, although most were not assembled until the 1730s, they all use popular arias from his most fashionable operas: Flavio and Ottone (composed 1723) and Giulio Cesare (1724). Written English did not come naturally to Handel, so he used a number of librettists. These texts are in a pastoral vein, expressing the trials, tribulations and complications of love.

Each cantata provides wave after wave of top quality Handel. In each case the music has been pared down, and there is an almost total lack of recitative. What remains is the truly wonderful melody. Nothing from the original arias has been lost, despite condensed instrumental scoring. Many of the keys of the original arias have been changed and The Brook Street Band deduced the voice type, from the range of the vocal line and the text.

Although none of the known sources for Handel’s English cantatas are in his hand, Tatty Theo is convinced of their authenticity, having looked in detail at the background to these works. In fact, a number of Handel’s known works survive only in the hand of their first copyist (or first printed edition). 

Press Coverage
National Radio

BBC Radio 4: Woman’s Hour

20 January 2009
Interview with Tatty Theo and Farran Scott featured, as well as a live performance by Tatty and a track from the CD. 

BBC Radio 3: In Tune

1 July 2009
15 minute feature on Brook Street band, with interview with Tatty Theo and performance.

21 January 2009
30 minute feature on Brook Street Band, with three live performances and interviews, 

October – December 2008
Pieces from the CD on several programmes. 

BBC Radio 3: CD Review

18 October 2008
Review of the CD was featured, and a track from the CD was played on the show.

BBC Radio London: The Robert Elms Show

2 July 2009
15 minute feature - Tatty Theo interviewed by Robert Elms and also played the cello.

National Press

Telegraph

December 2008
Review of CD by Richard Wigmore

Standard

10 December 2008
Norman Lebrecht reviewed the CD.

Independent

January 2009
Michael Church reviewed concert at Wigmore Hall, and a review of the CD.

Independent on Sunday 

7 December 2008
Ran review of CD.

Specialist Press

BBC Music Magazine

January 2009
Review of CD by Daniel Jaffe.

Classic FM Magazine

January 2009
CD review by Andrew Mellor.

January 2009
Wigmore Hall concerts included in Andrew Stewart’s round up of concerts.

Gramophone

Yet to appear (February 2009)
CD review, by David Threasher. 

Classical Music Magazine

December 2008
Brook Street Band Wigmore Hall concert series and CD included in Handel celebrations round.

Music Teacher

December 2009
Article on 'Too Hot to Handel' education project included, with image.

AI Magazine

7th November 2008
News piece on the Brook Street Band and the uncovering of Handel’s English Cantatas included in Simon Tait’s diary.

Listings

Independent Information 

17 October 2009
Concert on 23rd October included in Mark Pappenheim's 'Ten Best Performances'.

17 January 2009
Wigmore Hall concert on 23rd January highlighted by Mark Pappenheim as one of the best five concerts, and also listed under 23rd January. 

Guardian Guide 

17 January 2009
Wigmore Hall concert on 23rd January listed.

Ham & High

29 October 2009
Feature about 'Too Hot to Handel' education project, with photographs.

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