It’s a little surprising that the Newcastle-based Avison Ensemble and the Northallerton-based Divine Art haven’t got together before this. But here they are with two double-CD sets out this month, both showcasing the region’s 18th century musical heritage.
A contemporary and possibly sometime pupil of Charles Avison, Durham-born composer John Garth (1721-1810) is almost a forgotten man in British music. In his time, however, he was a well known and influential figure, running much of Durham’s musical life alongside Avison.
The reviewer for the Newcastle Journal of June 16, 1753 thought much of his appearance at the Assembly Rooms: ‘…where several fine pieces of Musick were performed, a Violoncello Concerto, composed and executed by Mr Garth, which was justly admired and applauded by all present.’
Admirable, too, are Richard Tunnicliffe’s performances, recorded in The Picture Gallery, Paxton House, Berwick, last year. Principal cello with the Avison Ensemble, Tunnicliffe combines stylistic discipline with a refreshing freedom of expression. Together, they are an excellent pair of discs.