Baroque cellist Richard Tunnicliffe is making a fortuitous habit out of digging up little known or completely unknown works for cello from the Baroque and early Classical periods and putting out quality recordings that make listeners wonder why these works had not been recorded before. This album on the Divine Art label featuring the six cello concertos of English composer John Garth is yet another prime example. The six concertos were not published (as Opus 1) until 1760, although there is evidence to suggest that he began composing them as many as seven years earlier and used them to showcase his own abilities on the cello. Although there are some aspects of form that are forward-looking, these six concertos and their orchestral accompaniments are highly influenced by Corelli.
Joining Tunnicliffe for this album is the Avison Ensemble -- named after one of Garth's primary composition instructors -- and consists of two violins, viola, cello, bass, and harpsichord. Despite the small numbers, the group produces a surprisingly rich and full sound, particularly satisfying in the bass end. As in previous endeavors, Tunnicliffe's academic understanding of the music at hand translates into brilliantly sophisticated, nuanced, and detailed performances. The only possible downside to this recording is balance between soloist and orchestra; Tunnicliffe's playing is quite soft and distant-sounding, with the solo line sometimes struggling to be heard.