Songs from the Marylebone Pleasure Gardens

On 22nd June, Besant Hall Records released ‘Songs from the Marylebone Pleasure Gardens’, performed by mezzo-soprano Clare Presland and a string quartet featuring Simon Blendis, Natalie Klouda, Meghan Cassidy, and Gemma Rosefield, recorded at Air-Edel Studios at the start of June under socially distanced conditions. The release was recorded in partnership with the 2020 Marylebone Music Festival and The Howard De Walden Estate, and coincides with Air-Edel’s 50th Anniversary celebrations.

240 years in the making, the Marylebone Music Festival brings back music of the Marylebone Pleasure Gardens which fell silent in 1777. During their time in the 18th Century, the Pleasure Gardens were known for their elegance and sophistication and were renowned for their entertainment, of which Marylebone was said to be the greatest.

“A real pleasure to be recording such great musicians who really bring these lost pieces back to life. I’m very grateful to be able to help shine a light on a little known part of Marylebone’s rich musical heritage – one that Air-Edel continues to be a part of.” – Nick Taylor , Air-Edel Record & Mix Engineer

It’s uncertain as to who the composers were for these songs, but we do know the singers were Mrs Chambers and Miss Faulkner. Mrs Chambers was a Marylebone regular and performed ‘Polly of the Plain’ which was printed in 1754. Miss Faulkner, a renowned Dublin-born singer, was engaged at the Marylebone Gardens for the 1747 season and became a favourite for the next five years. Composer Thomas Arne’s son, Micheal Arne, performed regularly at the Marylebone Gardens from 1750 onwards, often alongside Miss Faulkner, so this could suggest that Thomas Arne may have written one or two of these songs for Miss Faulkner. William Defesch (composer and violinist) also wrote songs specifically for the Marylebone Gardens. During 1748, Defesch oversaw the music at the Marylebone Pleasure Gardens and published six ‘New Songs’, two of which were performed by Miss Faulkner. The newly discovered manuscripts for these recordings were arranged by Simon Nathan.

“Music was a big part of the Marylebone Pleasure Gardens, even with its own orchestra. The recent discovery of manuscripts of the songs sung at the Marylebone Pleasure Gardens, however has led to this recording: ‘Songs from the Marylebone Pleasure Gardens’. Despite being unable to host the event physically in Marylebone, we wanted to ensure we marked the Festival and it’s mission to bring people together for good and to celebrate and encourage community spirit and the importance of working together.”   – Meghan Cassidy, Artistic Director