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Butler & Couperin

Henry Butler The Division Violist

1] Divisions upon a Ground in D 03:45 Bass Viol, Harpsichord, Harp 2] Divisions upon a Ground in G 08:18 2 Bass Viols, Harp 3] Divisions upon a Ground in e 08:35 2 Bass Viols 4] Divisions upon a Ground in a 08:30 2 Bass viols, Harpsichord 5] Prelude and Sonata in e 07:06 Bass Viol, Organ 6] Divisions upon a Ground in C 04:57 Bass Viol, Harp 7] Divisions upon a Groun in d 03:33 Bass Viol, Harpsichord 8] Divisions upon a Ground in F 04:22 2 Bass Viols 9] Divisions upon a Ground in a 08:04 2 Bass Viols, Harp 10] Prelude and Divisions upon a Ground in F 08:30 2 Bass Viols, Harpsichord 11] Divisions upon a Ground in d, Pavana di Spagna 12:07 2 Bass Viols, Harp

Roberto Gini & colleagues

OliveMusic/etcetera KTC 1906

In the mid-17 C., English composer Henry Butler (?-1652) - Butler, Boudler, Bocler, Botelero, Bulier, Bothelier... - moved to Spain in 1623 in the service of Charles Stuart, Prince of Wales, remaining there for the rest of his life.

His fame as a virtuoso on the viola da gamba stretched far and wide, but his music was not published during his lifetime because of an exclusive contract with his employer, the Spanish court.

Henry Butler’s Divisions upon a Ground are more elaborate than Purcell's, with technical difficulty that remains unmatched, pushing the viola da gamba to explore all the range of its possibilities.

The listing above makes this look a dry enterprise, but the disc is both a fascinating read and listen! The notes by the soloist (translated by Jill Feldman !) are comprehensive, learned and a really good read; they are printed in good black-on-white and well spaced; important in these days of too easy "download" that the real thing should keep in competition.

In general, my pulse doen't race at the prospect of another intégrale, but the Butler collection above amply justifies it for 9offering something rare and unique (as does the Nightingale Quartet's Langgaard project !).

Not so with this rather stolid Couperin collection. OK to listen to one or two, but all straight off - never !

The cover photo gives an image of hard work (8 days of recording 1991/95) & this music, composed for entertainment at the French Court, is really one for the library.

Peter Grahame Woolf