Charles Avison was one of the most influential musicians in eighteenth century England, both as a composer and as a writer of music. He was born in Newcastle in 1709 and despite lucrative offers of prestigious posts elsewhere he remained in his home city as cathedral organist. He also organised subscription concerts in Newcastle and also Durham.

Avison wrote about 60 concerti grossi. The twelve concerti of opus 9 were published in 1766 in London and are designed to be played in different ways including as keyboard solo or as string quartets. On this recording No 4 is played as a string quartet and the remainder as five strings plus either a harpsichord or organ. Each concerto is written in four movements starting with a slow movement and then alternating fast and slow movements.

The works are melodic and interesting to listen to and Avison obviously had developed his own distinctive style which is tinged with a slight touch of melancholy. They are played here with style, using period instrumentation and recorded in a sympathetic acoustic where every note can clearly be heard. It is well presented in an attractively designed cover and with good notes. The only black mark is that with only 46½ minutes of recording it does not represent good value although the mid-price compensates to some extent. The music is so enjoyable that it is a pity that more concerti were not included. Overall this is an attractive and interesting disc which can be fully recommended to anyone interested in early English music.

—Arthur Baker