Greensleeves: Folk Music of the British Isles

Armonico Consort, Christopher Monk dir.
Signum Classics SIGCD447

This is hardly folk-music – for instance, three items (Morley, Pearsall and Stanford) have nothing to do with folk, and much of the rest have irrelevant backing. The best is Holst’s version of I love my love, which develops from simplicity gradually into more elaboration that works. The original Greensleeves  from c.1580 is dubious as a folk song; the tune first appeared as a standard bass pattern, which has the first chord on B flat rather than G minor (in the usual pitch). Most of the rest are messed up by over-elaborate backing and prettiness. The title gives nothing to imply that this isn’t a recording of folk music: more plausible would be single voice or with a simple instrument. I initially wrote a more positive version of this review, but by the next day I felt more critical. The longer I live, the more I prefer unaccompanied or simple backing. There’s nothing on the cover that fits with genuine or imitated folk-song. There is some virtue, however, in the booklet.

Clifford Bartlett