A Scottish lass named Lucy Havens who migrated to Sydney with her family in 1839 was in possession of a large portfolio of sheet music, comprising of some 2,500 works, currently in the safe keeping of Sydney Living Museums. It forms the basis of the album by Australian ensemble Thoroughbass entitled Miss Lucy Havens Requests (the pleasure of your company). It reflects a time in Australia’s cultural history when music-making was commonplace in the homes of early settlers.
The eclectic nature of the works is demonstrated by the presence of a substantial sonata by Classical composer, pianist, and piano builder Ignaz Pleyel juxtaposed with shorter sonatas for two instruments (piano and violin or flute), folk tunes, and solo piano pieces. Pleyel’s Sonata in G from Six Sonatas for the Piano Forte or Harpsichord with an Accompaniment for a Flute or Violin and Violoncello is played by violinist Tara Hashambhoy and pianist Diana Weston. The piano forte used in this recording is actually a restored Broadwood square piano similar to one used in the nineteenth century. The first movement Allegro is lively but somewhat restrained in tempo, the second movement Adagio expressive and lyrical, while the third movement Allegro molto is bright & exuberant.
Four Scotch Songs, including the well-known Within a Mile of Edinburgh, are performed by soprano Danielle Grant with continuo accompaniment and an added part for violin composed as an obbligato by Australian composer Ann Carr-Boyd. Diana Weston plays square piano solos for both John Ross’ An Admired Scottish Air arranged with variations for the Piano Forte and William Browne’s Three Short Waltzes from Collection of Waltzes for the Piano Forte.
The highlight of the CD for me as a Scottish country dancer and pianist are the traditional tunes by famous Scottish fiddler Nathanial Gow, son of the most famous Scottish fiddler Neil Gow, within A Medley of Gaelic Dances. Hashambhoy plays very much in keeping with the style of Scottish fiddling, particularly the dotted rhythms in the reels of The Waterloo Strathspey and Reel and The Roxburgh Ball Waltz and Reel. The strathspey is the only truly Scottish musical and dance style and is characterised by the scotch snap. Mr Wilson’s Strathspey and Rope Dance completes the set, the former being a very well-known melody. All 3 medley pieces are accompanied by cello.
In addition to the Havens’ collection, Thoroughbass have included The Gaelic Old Smuggler Hotch-Potch (6th edition 1911), having found the sheet music in an antiquarian bookshop in Cootamundra! Lady Carolina Nairne’s song The Land o’ the Leal is sung in a beautifully controlled manner by Grant accompanied by cello and Weston playing harpsichord. A traditional instrumental medley, Lament for the Dead of the Battlefield, The Reel of Tulloch, and Johnnie Cope, the latter 2 tunes being very well-known, completes the nearly hour-long CD that is recommended to lovers of traditional Scottish music and historically-informed performance practice.
The CD can be purchased at the Thoroughbass website here