Mudge: 6 Concertos In Seven Parts / Capriccio Basel

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MUDGE Concertos: No. 1 in D; 1 No. 2 in B?; No. 3 in G; No. 4 in d; No. 5 in B?; No. 6 in F. 2 Non nobis, Domine 3,4,5 Dominik Kiefer (vn, cond); Henry Moderlak (tpt); 1 Marc Meisel (org); 2 Michael Feyfar (ten); 3 Raitis Grigalis (bar); 4 González Arroniz (bs); 5 Capriccio Basel (period instruments) TUDOR 7173 (75:41)

A graduate of Pembroke College, Oxford, Reverend Richard Mudge (1718­–1763) was appointed curate of both Great and Little Packington in 1741. He may have been private chaplain to Lord Guernsey, who would later become the Earl of Aylesford. The family had significant musical connections, the best known being Handel’s friend and librettist, Charles Jennens. In 1750, Mudge obtained a position at St. Martin’s, Birmingham, where he became a popular preacher. In 1756, we find him in the post of rector at Bedworth, where he lived until his death. Even though Mudge’s liturgical career is well documented, there is almost nothing pertaining to his musical pursuits.

Two collections of Mudge’s music have recently been discovered; both seem to have their origins during his years in service to Lord Aylesford. Most of the material appears to be preliminary versions of this set of concertos, published in 1749. Concertos for strings were quite popular at the time, selling well in a market geared to the desires of talented amateur performers. While the solo parts require performers whose skills are well above the mean, many provincial music societies included collections such as this in their repertoire. The set is scored in seven parts: a concertino of two violins and cello and a ripieno of two violins, viola, bass, and basso continuo . The First Concerto adds a trumpet to the ripieno and the Sixth includes a solo organ part that is modeled along the lines of Handel’s organ concertos. The remaining concertos follow the slow-fast-slow-fast pattern found in the concertos of Corelli and Geminiani, indicating that Mudge may have spent some time studying works by those composers in Lord Aylesford’s collection.

The text of the three-part motet, Non nobis, Domine , comes from the opening of Psalm 113. The two melodic components­—by Belgian Phillip van Wilder and Englishman William Byrd—were quite popular with Jacobites who refused to attend services of the Church of England. It expressed their solidarity with the Stuart dynasty and their rejection of the reigning monarch. As a footnote of sorts, the first appearance in English of both the music and text was around 1620.

The Baroque orchestra Capriccio Basel was founded in 1999, and their first decade has included concerts in France, Hungary, the United States, and appearances at several German festivals. Their collaborators include Andrew Parrott, Monica Huggett, and Gottfried von der Goltz. The orchestra’s Web site includes other releases, including one of concertos by William Hayes, which I hope to have in hand in the near future.

The music is not revelatory; it walks down a path that has been previously traveled by the likes of other Englishmen including John Stanley, Charles Avison, and John Hebden. But to Capriccio Basel, Mudge’s music is singular, and their beautifully manicured interpretations compel much admiration. Under the direction of Concert Master Dominik Kiefer, the orchestra and soloists exhibit a fine sense of elegance and generous vitality as well. Capriccio Basel displays a rare sense of dedication in this release; it is apparent at every turn by way of their meticulous attention to each and every detail, be it written or implied. Impeccable ensemble and precise intonation are the hallmarks of these praiseworthy sessions. These passionate and sympathetic interpretations have brought belated credit to this consistently charming music, music that has been awaiting rediscovery for far too long.

FANFARE: Michael Carter

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: T7173

  • UPC: 812973011736

  • Label: Tudor

  • Composer: Richard Mudge

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Capriccio Basel

  • Performer: Christoph Riedo, Christoph Rudolf, Dominik Kiefer, Eva Borhi, Henry Moderlak, Ismael González, Matthias Jäggi, Michael Feyfar, Peter Barczi, Raitis Grigalis