There’s a very interesting (and valid!) article in the latest Early Music Review. Jaakko Tuohiniemi wonders why the nation which has given birth to a very large number of world class early music performers (namely, the British!) so spectacularly fails to sing the praises of its native composers. Is it true that there is no-one of any note between Purcell and Britten, he wonders?
Of course he knows that is not the case. He extols the virtues of Hyperion’s English Orpheus series (which I totally agree with, though with a tinge of sadness as I recently learned that there would be no further volumes), and he lists a whole variety of discs of music by Garth, Mudge and William Hayes that he has reviewed in Finland.
As a publisher of obscure music, you would think that this would play right into my hands – surely I have lots and lots of music waiting for those keen to explore the riches of the English Baroque (and, as a proud Scotsman, I choose my words well), but no; until there is a market, why would I invest my time? Besides, there are perfectly good facsimile sets of much of the orchestral music already available from the likes of The Early Music Company.
2012, however, might just change that. It is the 300th anniversary of the birth of an English composer who really does deserve to be remembered: John Stanley. True, there is not a lot of surviving music apart from the concerti and the organ voluntaries. If I produce performing sets of his 15 surviving chamber cantatas, would anyone out there buy them? Perform them? Even more interesting for me would be if some larger group were interested enough to pay me to produce an edition of his oratorio “The Fall of Egypt”, or reconstruct “Zimri”…