John Garth – Accompanied Keyboard Sonatas, Op. 2 & Op. 4


Catalogue No: DDA 25115
EAN/UPC: 809730511523
Artists: ,
Release Date: May 2014
Genres: , ,
Discs: 2
Total Playing Time: 97:22

Along with his friend and teacher Charles Avison, Garth was one of the leading lights of the music scene in northern England in the late baroque era (late 18th century). His music was completely neglected until re-introduced by The Avison Ensemble in concerts and with their groundbreaking recording of his Cello Concertos in 2007 (DDA 25059). In his lifetime Garth was best known for his Op. 2 Sonatas, written in the northern English style with accompaniment by two violins and cello; this and the Op. 4 set represent almost the last flowering of the true baroque era. Each sonata is in two-movement form and while thoroughly ‘conventional’ in style, include some masterful composition and endlessly fascinating listening.

Track Listing

    John Garth:

  1. I. Sonata in G major, Op. 2 No. 1 − I. Allegro (4:14)
  2. II. Sonata in G major, Op. 2 No. 1 − II. Rondeau: Allegro (3:33)
  3. I. Sonata in F major, Op. 2 No. 2 − I. Allegro (4:56)
  4. II. Sonata in F major, Op. 2 No. 2 − II. Presto (2:28)
  5. I. Sonata in C minor, Op. 2 No. 3 − I. Allegro (5:26)
  6. II. Sonata in C minor, Op. 2 No. 3 − II. Tempo di minuetto (2:38)
  7. I. Sonata in E flat major, Op. 2 No. 4 − I. Allegro moderato (5:21)
  8. II. Sonata in E flat major, Op. 2 No. 4 − II. Rondeau: Presto (1:44)
  9. I. Sonata in A major, Op. 2 No. 5 − I. Allegro (5:02)
  10. II. Sonata in A major, Op. 2 No. 5 − II. Tempo di minuetto (2:56)
  11. I. Sonata in E major, Op. 2 No. 6 − I. Moderato (4:10)
  12. II. Sonata in E major, Op. 2 No. 6 − II. Presto (5:20)
  13. I. Sonata in C major, Op. 4 No. 1 − I. Allegro (4:17)
  14. II. Sonata in C major, Op. 4 No. 1 − II. Vivace (3:49)
  15. I. Sonata in E minor,Op. 4 No. 2 − I. Allegro (4:04)
  16. II. Sonata in E minor,Op. 4 No. 2 − II. Tempo di minuetto (2:47)
  17. I. Sonata in B flat major, Op. 4 No. 3 − I. Allegro moderato (4:31)
  18. II. Sonata in B flat major, Op. 4 No. 3 − II. Tempo di minuetto (3:46)
  19. I. Sonata in D major, Op. 4 No. 4 − I. Allegro assai (4:16)
  20. II. Sonata in D major, Op. 4 No. 4 − II. Tempo di gavotta: allegro (2:00)
  21. I. Sonata in E flat major, Op. 4 No. 5 − I. Allegro (5:18)
  22. II. Sonata in E flat major, Op. 4 No. 5 − II. Spiritoso (4:26)
  23. I. Sonata in G minor, Op. 4 No. 6 − I. Allegro (5:34)
  24. II. Sonata in G minor, Op. 4 No. 6 − II. Rondeau: Allegro (3:24)


International Record Review

Notwithstanding its immediacy and charisma, the highly approachable nature of Garth’s keyboard writing rendered [the Sonatas] within reach of those possessing only a relatively modest technique. A highly refined, elegant mode of writing holding considerable appeal. Cooper is joined by violinists Pavlo Beznosiuk and Caroline Balding, and cellist Robin Michael, superbly disciplined musicians whose presence is invariably sensed rather than heard… shapely and stylishly captivating playing. It is not just the adventurous speeds which contribute to the zesty effect in these performances but the intuitive and perfectly aligned nuances and points of emphasis with which the ensemble is able to operate so consistently. The recording is excellent, as it needs to be, in order to do justice to the top-drawer musicianship on display from these fine players.

” —Mark Tanner

The Avison Ensemble performs these two sonata sets with considerable attention to Garth’s clear phrasing. Their tempos are flexible enough to allow his tunes to stand out, and they have an outstanding sense of ensemble… In short, this is fine music with an excellent performance.

” —Bertil van Boer
The Classical Reviewer

There is much variety in the sonatas with Garth’s memorable themes a particularly attractive feature. . The playing of Gary Cooper and the Avison Ensemble has so much verve and life in sonatas that are full of fine tunes that stick in the mind long after listening to them. This is a highly desirable issue that will give endless enjoyment.

” —Bruce Reader

It was not hard at all to listen to these sonatas at a stretch. This is delightful music, very well written and with plenty of good themes. There is never a dull moment here, and that is also due to the interpreters [who] deliver energetic and differentiated performances. This has resulted in a highly entertaining set of discs.

” —Johan van Veen
The Consort

Garth’s works possess a combination of intensity of expression coupled with compositional proficiency … that makes them enjoyable and worthwhile as concert pieces. The performance of the sonatas by the Avison Ensemble is vivid and committed. Garth emerges from this recording as a thoroughly good composer whose music would merit publication in commercial editions.

” —Michael Talbot
Audiophile Sound

These are pleasant works, easy to grip (the minuet movements are especially intriguing) which highlight a composer fascinated by contemporary Italian instrumental style. The interpretation by the Avison Ensemble (one of the most interesting of British ensembles playing baroque music) and harpsichordist Gary Cooper makes the most of these works and highlights Garth’s skillful and versatile compositional technique.

” —Andrea Bedetti
American Record Guide

The strings are beautifully played by Pavlo Beznosiuk and Caroline Balding. Cooper varies the sonic palette nicely by alternating between harpsichord, fortepiano, and chamber. Garth’s music is charming. The recording has a bright, clean sound.

” —Rob Haskins

Well done, Divine Art for a welcome set of works by John Garth. The sonatas on these CDs are beautifully played with excellent sound and have a vigour that prevents them from being dull and predictable. They have an elegance and gracefulness. All the performers are exemplary and Gary Cooper has done much to encourage us with early music, a genre which many foolishly dismiss. All I can do is recommend this handsome set. I do urge you to purchase.

” —David C F Wright
Gapplegate Classical Modern Music

There is a period flavored freshness and vivacity to these works, as nicely performed by the Avison Ensemble with Gary Cooper. The individual tang of early pianoforte instruments, harpsichord and organ help individualize each sonata and give it character. The ensemble plays these pieces with enthusiasm, an infectious sort. I found myself listening with pleasure each time. I suspect anyone with an interest and appreciation for the earlier forms will feel positively about the program and its performance. Good show!

” —Grego Edwards

If any band was capable of convincing me [of the musical worth of the works], it would be superb British early music outfit The Avison Ensemble, whose recordings not only of their namesake’s music but that of Vivaldi, Handel and Corelli are renowned for a refined gutsiness that is quite unique. The change in timbre from harpsichord to fortepiano to organ is both effective and welcome, while the string playing is as finely differentiated and engaging as Cooper’s sparkling keyboard work

” —Will Yeoman

The only other recording of the music of Durham composer John Garth, comprising six cello concertos, also comes from Divine Art and received a warm welcome from me some time ago.  If anything the music [here] is even more interesting than on its predecessor and the performances are just as fine as on the earlier set.  The mp3 transfer is clear and immediate and the pdf booklet comes as part of the deal.

” —Brian Wilson