The Harmonious Society of Tickle-Fiddle Gentlemen
Taking its name from the poet Ned Ward’s description of the musicians who played at one of the world’s first series of public concerts in London, The Harmonious Society of Tickle-Fiddle Gentlemen was founded in London in 2006 to explore the neglected repertoire of public concert life in England in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Described on BBC Radio 3 as ‘purveyors of exhilarating and uplifting music’, the ensemble also maintains a broader interest in early eighteenth-century music for public concerts from across Europe. Their debut CD for Ramée, Pepusch’s ‘Concertos and Overtures for London’ became a bestseller in Germany and won accolades around the world. Always directed from within the ensemble and never with a conductor, the core members of the ensemble are all leaders in the field of historically-informed performance practice; including Tassilo Erhardt, Ben Sansom, Joanne Miller, Mark Baigent, Kinga Gaborjani and harpsichordist David Wright.
Groundbreaking musicological work underpins the approach of the ensemble. Led by viola da gamba and double bass player Robert Rawson, the group maintains a strong ethos to move away from the pervasive pattern where only a handful of baroque composers dominate concert and recording programmes. The recordings and performances of The Harmonious Society of Tickle-Fiddle Gentlemen urge a re-evaluation of the ‘popularity contest’ approach to music history which still dictates to performers, scholars and the public. Other recordings include a CD of concertos for violin and cello by the 18th-century Czech composer Josef Guretzky (1709–69) with soloists Kinga Gaborjani (cello) and Rodolfo Richter (violin). April 2016 saw the release of the ensemble’s world-premiere recording for Ramée of Pepusch’s dramatic masterpiece in English, Venus and Adonis (1715) with sopranos Ciara Hendrick and Philippa Hyde. Future plans include recordings of music by John Stanley and Gottfried Finger, among other ideas.
Recent festival appearances include sold-out concerts at the Festival Oude Muziek in Utrecht (2014) and at the Tage Alte Musik in Regensburg (2014).
“la musique pétille…” — Diapason, France
“Unfailingly attractive throughout…” —Fanfare, USA
“One of the most beautiful baroque recordings I have heard in a long time”— Focus Knack, Belgium
Klassik (magazine) ‘… led by bassist Robert Rawson […] the ensemble plays with much heart and soul. […] the Harmonious Society of Tickle-Fiddle Gentlemen has lifted these new and first recordings of a true musical treasure, which makes one curious for more of Pepusch and this wonderful ensemble’.
Fono Forum (magazine), 8/2012. ‘These first recordings are, in editorial and technical audio terms, as well as interpretive terms, at such a high level that one wonders why no one wanted to know more of Pepusch up to this point.”
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