Eccles & Finger: Music For The Theatre
Ihlenfeldt, Thomas; Capella Orlandi Bremen; Vermeulen, Olivia
This new album with the Capella Orlandi brings together stage music by Gottfried Finger and John Eccles, who wrote songs for the then famous English stage actress Anne Bracegirdle. At the end of the seventeenth century England’s theater world was shaped by the defensive stance of traditionalists toward influences from the Italian opera and the magnificence radiating from the French court. The English counterproposal, the “English opera,” was a combination of the “heroic play” with musical inserts ranging from individual songs, as already during Shakespeare’s time, to “all-sung masques,” little operas with pastoral content, works-within-the-work related at the most associatively to the framing action. During the Restoration period the old court form of the masque was hardly more than a name, often to be understood as synonymous with “interlude” or “musical entertainment.” The Mad Lover is a good example of the English opera. On this recording song inserts from other masques are added to this comedy by John Fletcher from 1647. Anne Bracegirdle was so very successful with compositions by John Eccles that she later exclusively sang works by him. Once the authors of the texts had recognized that moods and changing passions could be expressed much more easily with music, the logical move was to have these musical inserts increasingly develop from simple songs to a form similar to the cantata. The so-called mad song, in which the most impassioned feelings could be depicted very vividly, was the most popular form.