English Renaissance Consort Music
Consortium5 recorder quintet
Music by Jerome Bassano, Blankes, Brade, Byrd, Coperario, Dowland, Eglestone, Alfonso Ferrabosco I & II, Edward Gibbons, Holborne, Parsley, Parsons, Tye & Ward
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he title of this CD of English renaissance consort music is taken from a memorial wall-plaque in Norwich Cathedral to Osbert Parsley, composer of two of the 34 pieces on the disc, who died in 1585. Much of the music is associated with the court of Queen Elizabeth I and is usually for unspecified instruments, though Peter Holman speculates in his excellent notes on consort music in Elizabethan England that the three pieces by Bassano may well have been specifically written for recorders since the composer was a member of the court recorder consort for over fifty years. This Jerome (Geronimo) Bassano belonged to the second generation of the Bassano family which had moved in the 1530s from Venice to England where they became court musicians and recorder makers. It is a set of ten Bassano recorders made by Adriano Breukink which Consortium5 use to good effect in this recording. A whole CD of recorder music can leave one longing for a change of instrument but here the use of 4- and 8-foot pitch and the consort’s perfectly matched but varied articulation mean that the sound never becomes dull. The warm, mellow quality of the bigger instruments is particularly pleasing. The fact that 13 tracks are fantasias based on In Nomine might also lead to expectations of dullness but it’s surprising how great a variety of music can be based on this cantus firmus. There are more modern fantasias too, in a style derived from madrigals (rather than church music) which became fashionable around 1600. Most of the remaining pieces use dance forms and include a sprightly performance of Holborne’s Fairie-round and a set of well-known dances by Dowland.