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Henry Holcombe (1690–1756), born in Chester as the son of a silk weaver, was from 1720 until his death one of the leading English composers of small-scale vocal and instrumental works. His lifelong interest in Italian language and music led him to produce a charming set of twelve Italian canzonets, published in 1753, for high male or female voice. Unusually for the genre, the texts are drawn from arias in operatic librettos rather than from purpose-written poetry. Although these songs are well suited to both domestic and concert use, short sequences would prove ideal in solo recitals, while individual items would make excellent ‘encore’ material.