The Ghost in the Machine – Project Report for Angel Early Music.

“Whether or not you have an interest in 18th-century performing style or mechanical musical instruments, this is a delightful sequence of pieces, expertly played by Emily Baines and her colleagues in Amyas.” (andrewbensonwilson.org)

Emily Baines and Amyas (founded by Emily Baines and Arngeir Hauksson in 2017) are incredibly grateful for the support of Angel Early Music for their recording project of The Ghost in the Machine. The project brought to life research by Emily Baines into the performance style found in mechanical musical instruments made in eighteenth-century England. During the eighteenth-century there was a fascination throughout Europe with the mechanical replication of real life. Makers of mechanical musical instruments were praised for producing instruments 'with so much delicacy and taste, as to convey a warm idea of the impression which the hand gives on the instrument.'(W. Coxe, stepson to Handel’s amanuensis, J.C. Smith Jr). The performances heard in mechanical musical instruments are effectively recordings of musical performances which delighted their audiences at the time they were made, but which often challenge our ideas about the correct ways to perform music from this period. The most striking feature is the abundant use of ornamentation which often employs types of ornament not habitually in use, in places which today may not be considered. There are also other aspects such as rhythmic figurations like dotted rhythms notes inégales, the way chords are spread, and even relative tempi which offer a really fresh and new way to hear often well-known pieces. This album seeks to place arrangements of faithful transcriptions from mechanical instruments alongside pieces which present a comparable style notated by composers in the eighteenth century. These are taken from repertoire for recorder, flute, harpsichord and violin and orchestrated for various combinations of forces. The group, having worked to embody the style found in the research, also carry this forward and two of the pieces feature their original improvised decorations in keeping with this.

The Album ‘The Ghost in the Machine’ was successfully recorded in August 2020 despite lockdowns, venue changes and heatwaves. Release was slightly delayed but the album was released in October 2021. Our single of Handel’s ‘Overture from Water Music Suite in D’ which was included in Spotify’s  Classical New Releases playlist in early September and received over 5000 streams in its first week. Since then tracks from the album have been featured on Spotify’s popular playlists. We have also received very positive reviews, including  a double 4* review (for both performance and recording) in the Christmas edition of BBC Music Magazine who praised the ‘highly original programme’ and described our arrangements from barrel organ transcriptions as ‘gorgeous confections’.

Personnel

Emily Baines – Recorders/Director

Poppy Walshaw – Cello

Steven Devine – Harpsichord/Organ

Arngeir Hauksson – Theorbo/Guitar

Jim O’Toole – Violin

Holly Harman – Violin

Alexis Bennett – Viola

 

Recording Engineer – John Croft

Producer – Tom Hammond

 

Released by First Hand Records

 

Copies of the CD can be ordered from Emily at [email protected] or from First Hand Records.