The Taste of the Nation

Concertos and Cantatas ‘after the Italian Manner’

Spiritato and Ciara Hendrick

In February 2020, we will embark on a new adventure; the start of a long-term relationship with award-winning record label Delphian Records.

We’ll be joined by mezzo-soprano Ciara Hendrick for The Taste of the Nation - a world premiere recording of music by JC Pepusch, William Corbett and Obadiah Shuttleworth.

Alongside the recording, we’ll be performing the repertoire at Wiltshire Music Centre and Chichester Chamber Concerts and giving two workshops, including one for students at the Royal Academy of Music.

We’re very lucky to be 75% funded already, including the generous support of Angel Early Music, The Golsoncott Foundation, The Bishopsdown Trust and the Gemma Classical Music Trust, but we need your help to get us over the finish line and bring this music back to life!

We’re extremely grateful for your support, please take a look at how we’d like to thank you.

Concert dates:

15th February 2020 – Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford on Avon

27th February 2020 – Chichester Chamber Concerts, Chichester


JC Pepusch; Cantatas III and VI; ‘The Spring’ and ‘Chloe’ from 6 English Cantatas, 1710

O Shuttleworth; Two Concertos; Being the first & eleventh
of ye late
Arcangello Corelli
, 1726

JC Pepusch; Cantatas V and VI; ‘Kindly Fate at length release me’ and ‘While pale Britannia pensive sate’ from 6 English Cantatas, 1720

W Corbett; Extracts from Bizzarie Universali , 1728

Shuttleworth, Corbett and Pepusch were direct contemporaries of Handel, highly admired, virtuoso musicians composing and performing in London. Their music is vibrant, entertaining and wonderfully virtuosic. Handel’s arrival in the early 1700s completely changed music in England, yet his colossal reputation overshadows many composers who contributed greatly to the new fashion for Italianate concertos and cantatas.

Many composers of the earlier ‘Purcellian’ style found themselves outmoded almost overnight. Daniel Purcell, himself a composer in both the old and new styles, despaired at the changing fashions (and fortunes) of the London musical scene. In an essay published with his 1713 collection of cantatas ‘after the Italian manner’, he writes;

The Introducing Italian Opera’s upon the English Stage, has so altered the Taste of this Nation, as to MUSICK, that scarce any thing, but what bears some Resemblance of the Italian Style and Manner, is received with Favour or heard with Patience.

With this turbulent context as the background for our recording, the repertoire we have chosen shines a light on the transition between the old traditions of Purcell, and the new Italian style of Corelli and Handel.

Shuttleworth, a virtuoso violinist, is the first native Englishman to compose in the Concerto Grosso style; his two vivacious concerti remain his only extant works. Pepusch, like Handel a European immigrant, embraced the new fashion for the Italian cantata, whilst recognizing the desire of many for a hybrid Anglo-Italian style. Finally William Corbett, the leader of the orchestra of the Haymarket Theatre in London, travelled extensively in Italy, noting down the traditional music and way of playing for his wonderful collection of concertos; Bizzarie Universali.

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