Baroque — The Oxford Collection

On a vis­it to Oxford at the week­end, I was pleased to vis­it the won­der­ful Ash­molean Muse­um of Art and Archae­ol­o­gy, which is always a plea­sure to spend some time in.

While there, vis­it­ing the muse­um shop as one is wont to do, I came across a record­ing of harp­si­chord pieces by Han­del and Scar­lat­ti, played by Mar­tin Souter on the 1772 Kir­ck­man instru­ment in the Muse­um’s col­lec­tion.

Souter is evi­dent­ly an extreme­ly ver­sa­tile per­former: in addi­tion to numer­ous antique key­board per­for­mances, you may have heard him recent­ly on my pro­gramme of songs by Amer­i­can song­writer Stephen Fos­ter. So of course I could­n’t resist pur­chas­ing said album, and that gave me an idea for a pro­gramme of Baroque music fea­tur­ing his per­for­mances, some of which have a def­i­nite con­nec­tion to this ancient Uni­ver­si­ty city.

So today, in addi­tion to Souter’s Han­del and Scar­lat­ti per­for­mances, you’ll hear some Pur­cell pieces played by him on an instru­ment from the Bate Col­lec­tion in Oxford along with some of his oth­er Baroque inter­pre­ta­tions. We also present a rather spe­cial ver­sion of Han­del’s Water Music suite No 1 in F Major, HWV 348, known as the “Oxford” ver­sion. This is for a small­er orches­tra than in the more famil­iar arrange­ment, and fea­tures pri­mar­i­ly stringed instru­ments which would not have car­ried well in the open air for which the Suite was writ­ten — it was writ­ten instead for indoor per­for­mances. It is played by the Oxford Baroque ensem­ble.

The pic­ture shows detail from a harp­si­chord in the Ash­molean col­lec­tion, tak­en by Schaible.

Today’s pro­gramme is pre­sent­ed by Elrik Mer­lin and pro­duced by Radio Riel in con­junc­tion with our friends at the Alexan­dri­an Free Library Con­sor­tium of Sec­ond Life. You can lis­ten to the pro­gramme in-world now at, or sim­ply click here to start your play­er, if your brows­er is con­fig­ured to do so. Lis­ten­ers in the Unit­ed States are encour­aged to tune in using this link:

For more infor­ma­tion on the Alexan­dri­an Free Library, cur­rent exhibits and the work of Con­sor­tium mem­bers in gen­er­al, please vis­it the Alexan­dri­an Free Library web­site, or one of their branch­es in-world.

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