This well-planned Naxos programme is carefully laid out in two parts, each of viol music interspersed with harpsichord and organ pieces and ending with an anthem. It gives collectors an admirable opportunity to sample, very inexpensively, the wider output of Thomas Tomkins, and outstandingly fine Elizabethan musician whose music is still too known. Though he is best known for hid magnificent church music, it is refreshing to discover what he could do with viols, experimenting with different combinations of sizes of instruments, usually writing with the polyphony subservient to expressive harmonic feeling, as in the splendid and touching Fantasia for six viols. Perhaps the most remarkable piece here is the Hexachord fantasia, where the scurrying part-writing ornaments a rising and falling six-note scale (hexachord). The two five-part verse anthems and Above the stars, which is in six parts, are accompanied by five viols, with a fine counter-tenor in Above the stars and a bass in Thou art my King.
Opera composer Domenico Cimarosa wrote nearly 90 keyboard sonatas that, until the late twentieth century, were ignored by musicologists as well as performers. It is easy to understand why, when they are compared to contemporary works by Mozart and Haydn. Cimarosa stuck to the one-movement sonata form that was used by Domenico Scarlatti. There is some evidence that Cimarosa considered using the three-movement structure, but no such sonata by him has been found, nor has there been found any indication that some of the single movements should be combined in such a way.
Of course, the listener can tell the Handel Suites played by Andrei Gavrilov from the Handel Suites played by Sviatoslav Richter. Gavrilov's Suites are superbly played, thoughtfully performed, and persuasively interpreted. Richter's Suites, however, are supremely well played, penetratingly performed, and profoundly interpreted. Gavrilov's Suites are among the best recordings of the Suites ever made, catching the works' playfulness and seriousness, their sense of intimacy, and their sense of entertainment.