William Smethergell Regency Overtures Still Entertain

This release features music by a little-known composer. And to all involved with this project, let me say it was worth the effort. 

William Smethergell was an extremely popular organist and composer in Georgian England. He was of the generation following Handel. And part of the generation that followed Handel’s ideals.

Smethergell’s orchestral works were regularly performed at the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. The audiences had an appetite for the latest music, beginning in the 1740s with Mr. Handel’s. Thomas Arne, William Boyce, and John Hebden were just a few to supply that need. 

In the late 1790s fashion changed with the arrival of Haydn. Smethergell and his music lapsed into obscurity. This release features his set of six overtures, published as his Opus 5. These works were written over several years and then collected for publication. 

Each overture has its own character, and in some cases even varies in form. Smethergell had a fondness for winds. He uses flutes, oboes, and French horns far more than other composers of his day.

I found these pieces fun to listen to. They’re light fare, and have an English quality to them. Sorry, I can’t be more specific. But if you listen, you should hear it, too. 

The Südwestdeutsches Kammerorchester Pforzheim is directed by Douglas Bostock. The ensemble has a clean, clear sound. Its lightness is ideal for this music. I’m looking forward to Volume 2.   

William Smethergell: Overtures Vol. 1
Sudwestdeutsches Kammerorchester Pforzheim; Douglas Bostock, conductor
CPO 555 540-2

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