Saturday, 12 October 2013

The Virtuosi of England conducted by Arthur Davison on Classics for Pleasure


In the mid-seventies, as a mid-teen, I discovered Classical Music, and of course wanted to buy as many vinyl LPs as possible, so I could study and enjoy my favourite pieces.

My staple diet was the Classics for Pleasure series, since these were both the cheapest LPs, and also (almost all) very good performances.

My way-in was probably via the performances of Bach's Brandenberg Concerti by a scratch orchestra (that is, an orchestra assembled for the occasion) called The Virtuosi of England, conducted by Arthur Davison, from a new edition by Richard Townend, and the recording produced by John Boyden.

I ended-up buying quite a lot of these Davison/ Townend/ Boyden/ Virtuosi of England recordings of  Bach, Albinoni, Vivaldi, Mozart, Purcell and what-not. I almost always liked them a lot; but they are somewhat mysterious, unappreciated and undocumented.

I infer that the Virtuosi of England (who were often listed by name) were composed of some of the best London orchestra musicians of that era - principals from the various 'sections' of the Philharmonia, BBC Symphony, LSO etc., freelancers of the stature of David Munrow (recorder) and other Professors from the Royal Academy of Music - presumably moonlighting for extra pocket-money; and led, usually, by Kenneth Sillito (who led the Gabrieli String Quartet, and the very best chamber orchestra I have ever known: The Academy of St Martin in the Fields).

The Virtuosi of England... Long-gone, unrecognized, but not forgotten by me - on the contrary remembered with gratitude; and their clean, fresh, firm vinyl performances still being enjoyed (despite forty years worth of accumulated scratches)!