Canaletto: the Thames with St Paul's in the background.
Not far downstream is the ancient port of Rotherhithe. From here, the Mayflower sailed for the New World.

John STANLEY (1713-1786):      

Six Concertos for Strings/Organ/Harpsichord

Leslie Jones, Organist and Conductor
Harold Lester, Harpsichord

John Blow (1649-1708):
A Voluntary for the Cornett Stop

Recorded in St. Mary's Church,
Rotherhithe, London.
Organ by John Byfield 1764.

1. Concerto No 2 in b minor for Organ and Strings
    Largo-Adagio - Allegro - Adagio-Allegro moderato - Adagio-Allegro – Allegro

2. Concerto No 4 in d minor for Strings, with harpsichord continuo
    Adagio - Allegro - Andante – Allegro

3. Concerto No 5 in A Major for Harpsichord and Strings
    Largo-Allegro - Adagio - Allegro - Allegro moderato

4. Concerto No 1 in D Major for Strings with organ continuo
    Largo - Allegro-Adagio-Allegro - Allegro - Adagio - Allegro

5. Concerto No 6 in B flat Major for Harpsichord and Strings
    Adagio-Allegro - Largo - Allegro

6. Concerto No 3 in G Major for Organ and Strings
    Adagio-Allegro - Andante - Allegro

7. John Blow: Voluntary for the Cornett Stop

If you haven't heard these Concertos before - don't hesitate!

Composed between 1742 and 1745 they are varied, tuneful, frequently contrapuntal, grand in the Handelian manner - and very baroque. Highly enjoyable and entertaining from start to finish.

If you have heard them before, then you probably heard them in one of the versions for string orchestra - all six performed all on one sound and textural level as Six Concertos for Strings. The present recording takes a different approach. These concertos were entitled "For Strings and Continuo, or Keyboard and Continuo", and we took John Stanley at his word! In fact, when preparing the scores, conductor Leslie Jones found that some are more suited to Strings, some to Keyboard. In the end, conductor and producer settled on the following: two concertos as Organ with strings, two as Harpsichord with strings, and two for Strings, one with harpsichord continuo, the other with organ continuo.

Nor did we use a chamber organ in a studio. These concertos were recorded in St Mary's Church in the old Thames River port of Rotherhithe, in the east end of London. From here the Mayflower set sail for America - her captain lies buried in the churchyard. This historic church provides not only a wonderful acoustic, but also a 1764 John Byfield organ in original condition. Leslie Jones himself plays the organ, occasionally reinforcing full organ sections with pedal. Harold Lester plays the harpsichord with his usual meticulous phrasing, and his enthusiasm which ensures that never a repeat comes without extensive elaboration - he even provides his own short cadenzas.

Here are six concertos, each one different in orchestration, every one a delight in the variety of its fairly short tuneful movements. Out of respect for the organ's venerable age and invaluable contribution, we have included a short solo organ piece to conclude the disc: a "Voluntary for the Cornett Stop" by John Blow.

more detail
Byfield Organ, Rotherhithe
St. Mary Rotherhithe

Baroque Music Library