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Red Priest
baroque show group, UK

Red Priest

PIERS ADAMS - recorders
JULIA BISHOP - violin
ANGELA EAST - cello
HOWARD BEACH - harpsichord


Red Priest is one of the major success stories on the international early music scene today. Named after the flame-haired priest, Antonio Vivaldi, this extraordinary English ensemble has redefined the art of baroque music performance, combining the fruits of extensive research with swashbuckling virtuosity, creative re-composition, heart-on-sleeve emotion and compelling stagecraft. The group performs largely from memory, allowing an operatic level of freedom and interaction, and its programs are drawn from myriad baroque sources to create a kaleidoscopic range of moods and colours. 
 
Formed in 1997, Red Priest now gives over 70 concerts a year in some of the most prestigious venues in Europe, Australia and especially the USA together with Radio and TV broadcasts and a series of CD recordings including "Priest on the Run," "Nightmare in Venice," and "The Four Seasons."   International music critics have described the Red Priest style as "electrifying," "sheer daring," "immaculately forged," "sonically supercharged," "brilliant and inspired," "deliciously twisted"-but the group's extravagantly baroque ethos is perhaps best summed up in the words of English musicologist and broadcaster George Pratt: "If nobody goes over the top, how will we know what lies on the other side?" 

The launch of Red Priest's "Red Hot Baroque Show" - a dramatic marriage of baroque instrumental wizardry with modern stage and lighting technology took place in February 2005, and a major TV documentary for the South Bank Show (ITV 1) was broadcast in April 2005. 

To find out more about Red Priest, including details of recordings and concert performances, please visit their website at http://www.redpriest.co.uk/.  

Red Priest1


Piers Adams was recently heralded in the Washington Post as "the reigning recorder virtuoso in the world today".   He has performed in numerous festivals and at premiere concert halls throughout the world, including London's Royal Festival, Wigmore and Queen Elizabeth Halls, as soloist with orchestras including the Philharmonia, the English Sinfonia, the Academy of  
Ancient Music, the Singapore Symphony and the BBC Symphony. Piers has made several solo CDs reflecting an eclectic taste, ranging from his award-winning Vivaldi début disc to David Bedford's Recorder Concerto - one of many major works written for him. He has also researched, arranged and recorded a variety of romantic showpieces, which are a mainstay of his recital programs. Full details of his performing activities can be found on
http://www.piersadams.com/
 
Julia Bishop is one of the outstanding baroque violin specialists of her generation, with a virtuoso style described in the BBC Music Magazine as "psychedelic".  She has toured the world with most of the UK's leading period instrument orchestras, including the English Concert, of which she was a member for six years. She is now in great demand as an orchestral leader and soloist, in particular with the celebrated Gabrieli Consort, with whom she has performed internationally and appeared on numerous discs for Deutsche Grammophon.  She has also appeared as concerto soloist with Florilegium, the Brandenburg Consort and the Hanover Band, and teaches baroque violin techniques at the Royal Academy of Music, London.

Angela East is widely respected as one of the most brilliant and dynamic performers in the period instrument world, praised in The Times, London, for the "elemental power" of her cello playing. She has given numerous concerto performances in London's Queen Elizabeth and Wigmore Halls, and has performed as soloist and continuo cellist with many of Europe's leading baroque orchestras. Among her impressive list of concert credits are La Scala, Milan, Sydney Opera House, Versailles and Glyndebourne. In 1991 Angela formed "The Revolutionary Drawing Room" which performs chamber works from the revolutionary period in Europe on original instruments, and whose first eight CDs have received glowing reviews world-wide.  
 
Howard Beach's uniquely wide-ranging style of keyboard playing has been developed through years of partnering fine musicians in many different fields of music, as well as his own experience as an accomplished singer and violinist. Since 1989 he has worked regularly with Piers Adams in concert and in the recording studio as both harpsichordist and pianist-including  
several performances in London's Wigmore Hall and tours throughout Europe, Canada and the Far East. He has also performed and recorded as a concerto soloist and continuo player with Les Arts Florissants, the Apollo Chamber Orchestra and the London Mozart Players. Howard broadcasts frequently on radio and has been consultant and performer on programs for UK's Channel 4 TV. 

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PIRATES OF THE BAROQUE

Stolen masterworks and long-lost jewels of the baroque era performed with swashbuckling virtuosity!

JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH (1685-1750)
Preludio (from Partita in E major BWV 1006)    4'

GIOVANNI PAULO SIMONETTI (18th Century)
Sonata in C Minor Op 5 No 2 "La Burrasca" (The Sea-Storm)     8'
Preludio (Grave)   Presto assai   Largo    Allegro

TOMASSO ALBINONI (1671-1751) / REMO GIAZOTTO (1910-1998)
Adagio     8'

JEAN-MARIE LECLAIR (1697-1764)
Tambourin     3'

GEORG FREDERICK HANDEL (1685-1759)
Aria Amorosa     4'

ANTONIO VIVALDI (1676-1741)
Concerto Grosso in D minor RV 565     8'
Allegro  Adagio e Spiccato   Allegro   Largo  Allegro

FRANÇOIS COUPERIN (1668-1733)
La Jour des Pirates     17'
Le Matin (Reveille - Travail dans le Soleil - Flottant sur l'Ocean)
La Battaile (Fanfare - Combat - Desordre - Les Invalides)
Le Soir (Les Danses - La Seduction - Le Sommeil)

ANON (17th Century)
Budro: a Pirate Dance     1'

TOMMASO VITALI (1665-1717)
Chaconne       9'

GIUSEPPE TARTINI (1692-1770)
Senti Lo Mare (Listen to the Sea)      3'
    
ANTONIO VIVALDI (1676-1741)
Concerto in G major "La Tempesta di Mare" ("The Sea Storm") RV 433     6'

The popular Hollywood image of pirates as likeable, swashbuckling rogues is certainly at odds with the gory reality of their trade, and to equate such scoundrels to our most learned baroque composers may seem fanciful in the extreme.  But on closer inspection there are parallels which, if nothing else, ignite the imagination and allow us to take an alternative look at one of the most colourful periods in musical history.

The leading musicians from the Baroque era were pioneers and adventurers, riding the seas of change with wild abandon, ever searching for new musical treasures to titillate the ears and move the souls of the public   Only in retrospect has the mythology of highbrow, rule-bound men of quill and parchment been created; the reality was much more down to earth, the majority of composers living boozy, philandering, extravagantly bohemian lives, intent on maximising their profits through, if necessary, dubious means.   Yet ironically it is from this very atmosphere of skulduggery that some of the greatest works of art were produced.

Musical piracy could take many forms - from the poaching of compositional themes and ideas to the false attribution of famous composer's names to works by lesser-known authors, a common practise amongst the unscrupulous music publishers of the day.    Arrangements of the works of others were commonplace throughout the era, and indeed, if composers of the past could witness our attempts today to reproduce slavishly their precise notes and nuances they would in all probability be dumfounded - that concept was at direct odds with their own adventurous spirits.  

Today's programme features not only examples of plagiarism from the baroque era itself - such as Handel's Aria Amorosa, stolen by the great master from the little known composer Kaiser - but also some recent instances of baroque theft.   Most famous is the ‘Albinoni' Adagio, that beautiful jewel actually composed in the 1940s by the Italian musicologist Remo Giazzoto, who maybe thought that attributing it to an Italian baroque master would increase its publishable worth.   Our own transcriptions are inspired in part by the work of early 20th century violinists, who would frequently ‘borrow' and re-arrange repertoire from the baroque era to fit into romantic recital programs - Bach's ebullient Preludio, the perky Tambourin by Leclair and the great Vitali Chaconne are amongst the works made famous in this way.

The pirate theme is further expanded with some little-known seafaring works by Simonetti and Tartini and a suite by Couperin, assembled and arranged by Howard Beach from the composer's magnificent opus of character pieces for solo harpsichord, to reflect a typical day in the life of a baroque pirate...

The life of Antonio Vivaldi - the original Red Priest of Venice - is a case study in baroque extravagance   Indeed he was described by the English composer William Hayes as a man with ‘too much mercury in his constitution', a characteristic in plentiful display in the two extrovert concertos presented here: the swashbuckling Concerto in D minor from ‘L'Estro Armonico', and the pounding seas of the famous ‘Tempesta di Mare', complete in our interpretation with some additional nautical interpolations which we found impossible to resist!

Piers Adams 2006

Baha muzikas fonds, Hipokrata iela 35-32, LV-1079, Riga, Latvija, talr.: 29208181, e-pasts: bachfestival@inbox.lv