Diabolus Georgian

Picture Kevin Boyd

Due to our corrosive climate, and a depressing historical inclination of the nobility to demolish rather than preserve the past, Britain contains far more 18th century historic houses and museums than Tudor ones. Following numerous requests, we decided that we should develop a refined repertoire appropriate to the ormolu-encrusted interiors of our nation's noblest piles.

The problem was continuo. Most Baroque repertoire normally requires a bass viol, and a harpsichord or spinet. The logistics of transporting one of those delicate beasts, then tuning it on site for a couple of hours, restricts such performances to formal concerts.

A flash of inspiration came while I was creating a website for Jacqui Robertson-Wade (www.rondopublishing.co.uk). Jacqui is a superb viol player. Could we make an 18th century repertoire work without a keyboard? It was sometimes done that way historically. It would make everything cheaper, far more portable, and faster to set up.

We experimented. It worked. We quickly located a huge repertoire of 18th century drawing-room music, consulted a costumier and wigmaker, and created a Georgian duo. The result is visually and musically impressive.

Our repertoire consists of sonatas by famous (and not so famous) composers active in 18th century England - Handel, John Loiellet, Pepusch, Andrew Parcham, Godfrey Finger, James Hook, and a host of others. We include some valuable imports, such as Telemann and Vivaldi, and occasionally descend to arrangements of contemporary dance music and folk songs. It's ideal for 18th century interiors, but we can even play in a marquee, provided the temperature and humidity are reasonable.

We're now in business and available for hire. Clients so far include Soho House in Birmingham, Compton Verney, and the Geffrye Museum in London, who commissioned us to do a recording of music from 1695 for a Christmas exhibition.

For clients who have a larger budget, more space, and can allocate tuning time, we can provide a harpsichordist. If you want more players, we'll locate them. Just tell us what you need.