Despite having written over eighty string concertos and being hailed by the
New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians as "the most important
English concerto composer of the 18th century", Charles Avison's music
is still rarely performed on either modern or period instruments. There have
been many recordings of Avison's famous arrangements of Scarlatti's keyboard
sonatas, however, it is astonishing that this CD of Twelve Concertos opus
6 represents the first ever recording of a complete opus by Charles Avison.
Several years ago, a colleague and I discovered a collection of eighteenth
century music hidden away at the back of a cupboard. This turned out to be a
number of concertos of the hitherto little known Newcastle born composer Charles
Avison. Excited by the originality and freshness of the music, The Avison Ensemble
was formed with the aim of enhancing public awareness of Charles Avison and
the many other neglected British composers of the baroque period - composers
thoroughly overshadowed by the brilliant career of George Frederick Handel,
who was living and working in London at the time.
Comprising some of Europe's leading baroque musicians, The Avison Ensemble
is furthering the revival of the once famous Newcastle Subscription Concerts
originally established and promoted by Charles Avison himself. We have chosen
to perform on period instruments in order to recreate as close as possible the
distinctive 'sound world' that Charles Avison would have known. Whilst other
works from the baroque and early classical periods are played, The Avison Ensemble
is unique in having its own composer along with a substantial repertoire of
his music as yet unperformed in modern times. Miraculously, we have added to
this repertoire with the recent acquisition of two of Avison's original workbooks!
In 2001, with the assistance of The Heritage Lottery Fund, and members
of The Charles Avison Society, we purchased, at Sotheby's auction rooms
in London, the first ever Avison workbook to surface. Incredibly, less than
a year later, a second book was discovered and acquired by The Avison Ensemble.
Both manuscripts contain many unpublished works by the composer and several
of his contemporaries - an exciting find for the musical world.
Today, The Avison Ensemble introduces new audiences to Charles Avison's music
through an intensive touring, publishing and recording schedule; a thriving
education outreach programme; subscription concerts and radio broadcasts. For
more information, or to join The Charles Avison Society, please contact us or
visit our web site. We hope you enjoy our performance and Charles Avison's music
on this Naxos CD!