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John Sheeles

Suites of Lessons, Book 1 (1724) (keyboard) Set 2
Suites of Lessons, Book 2 (c.1730) (keyboard) Set 2

Best known today for his ever-popular hymn The Spacious Firmament on High, John Sheeles (16951765) was also a talented composer of songs, both secular and devotional, and keyboard music. Born in Lincoln but based for most of his life in London, Sheeles published two books of harpsichord suites in 1724 and c.1730, respectively. These basically follow in the tradition of Restoration composers such as Purcell and Croft, but more recent influences, such as those of Corelli, Handel and even Domenico Scarlatti are also discernible. Sheeles has a distinct gift for melody and for developing musical motives intensively and inventively, while always treating the keyboard in a highly varied and idiomatic manner. Each of his thirteen suites, all containing between three and five movements, follows an individual plan, mixing lengthy and sometimes ambitious movements with shorter, simpler ones. This is their first modern edition, and one that promises to win his music many admirers.

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