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"Yes, yes, we will have a pianoforte, as good a one as can be got for thirty guineas, and I will practise country dances, that we may have some amusement for our nephews and nieces, when we have the pleasure of their company."

So wrote Jane Austen (1775-1817) to her sister Cassandra on 27th December 1808.  Music played a significant part in Jane's life in the cottage at Chawton in Hampshire she shared with her mother and sister. According to Caroline, one of her nieces, she practised the pianoforte each day before breakfast, but could not be prevailed upon to perform in public.

This CD by original-instrument specialists Concert Royal presents music from the personal collection of the Austen family; music that would have been heard, if not played and sung, by Jane, her parents and her sister Cassandra.  Performed in "drawing-room" style this is music presented as it would have been heard in Jane's time.  The CD also includes extracts from "Pride and Prejudice" and "Emma" and from some of Jane's letters to her sister, including the above reference to the family's forthcoming acquisition of a square piano, an instrument of the type used on this recording.     Very different in tone (and tuning) to the modern grand piano, it is sometimes difficult to believe that this is the type of keyboard upon which many of the great works of Mozart were composed.



The Wedding Day (extract)







1. The Highland Laddie
trad.; arr. Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) 
 2. The Yellow Hair'd Laddie
trad.; arr. L.A. Kozeluch (1747-1818) 
 3. Peaty's Mill
arr. Stephen Paxton (1735-1787)
 4. Extract from "Sense and Sensibility" (1811) -Marianne compares Edward's lack of sensibility with Willoughby
 5. Andantino
Ignace Joseph Pleyel (1757-1831)
 6. Extract from "Sense and Sensibility" (1811) - Marianne has been abandoned by Willoughby
 7. The Mansion of Peace
Samuel Webbe snr. (1740-1816)
 8. Time hath not Thinn'd
William Jackson (1730-1803)
 9. William
Joseph Haydn; arr. Thomas Billington (1754-1832)
 10. Extract from a letter from Jane to her sister Cassandra (5th September 1796) followed by  Boulangeries (anon.)
 11. Cymon and Iphigenia
Thomas Augustine Arne (1710-1778)
 12. Extract from a letter from Jane to her sister Cassandra (27th December 1808) followed by:
      Air des Ballets de la Caravane
A. E. M. Grétry (1741-1813)
 13. The Wedding Day
James Hook (1746-1827)
 14. The Nightingale
 15. Extract from "Emma" (1816) - Mrs. Cole tells of the mysterious arrival of a pianoforte for Jane  Fairfax
 16. The Shepherd's Song
Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
 17. Extract from a letter from Jane to her sister Cassandra (15th January 1796) followed by The Irishman (anonymous)

COPPERFIELD BOOKS specialise in books relating to Jane Austen, including "D'Arcy's Story"  


review extracts: for full reviews click here
"This is a delightful idea for a recording… The non-musical items in the programme are done splendidly by the soprano Margarette Ashton… The performers themselves, Concert Royal, are excellent. With original instruments which include a one keyed flute and a square piano joining a soprano voice that is small but admirably suited to the repertoire the concept succeeds. The well-recorded programme really does create images of the scene that we are intended to imagine."
A recommendation then for an imaginative and enterprising CD - Classical Music on the Web
“Performances are stylish and thoughtful, Miss Ashton's remarkably clear delivery doing much for her songs, the instrumentalists supporting excellently. This well recorded disc sheds much light on English middle class musical taste around 1800” - British Music Society News