Clerk: The Lion of Scotland – Cantatas by John Clerk of Penicuik

Clerk: The Lion of Scotland – Cantatas by John Clerk of Penicuik

Catherine Bott (soprano), Concerto Caledonia


This is the first recording of any of Clerk's cantatas which are among the finest contributions to baroque music from these islands from a man of great cultural significance and with a crucial place in the history of Scottish culture. Clerk studied in Rome under Corelli and Pasquini and was also a lawyer, judge, amateur architect, artist, poet and landscape gardener. A great deal more fascinating information about him is printed in the CD booklet.

Clerk had a natural melodic gift and his vocal writing is magnificent: intense, sensuous, varied. He enhances his texts with subtle illustrative touches, from a ground bass representing Fortune's wheel, to delicate violin trills depicting hovering cupids. Leo Scotiae irritatus commemorates an ill-fated claim by Scotland to colonize the Panama isthmus, an enterprise which led to conflict with the English and the Spanish. Dic mihi confesses to a somewhat ambivalent sexuality.

Clerk's direct heir in the male line, the present Sir John Clerk of Penicuik, still lives at Penicuik House, and it is with his permission that the editions used here were made from Clerk's original manuscripts.

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