The Queen’s Six
Music by Byrd, Gibbons, Morley, Tallis, Tomkins & Weelkes
The Royal Court in question is that of England and the ‘Her’ is Elizabeth I, although the programme also takes us into the reign of her successor, James VI/I. The Queen’s Six present a varied and pleasant programme of polyphonic madrigals and more homophonic strophic songs, including several items from the iconic Triumphs of Oriana. The six male voices produce a mellow and nicely blended sound, and if the two altos at the upper end of their range occasionally produce a rather unrelentingly opaque tone the lower voices are splendidly rounded. I also have the feeling that the relatively narrow dynamic range might be due to the limitations of the upper voices. Notwithstanding, the articulation in rapid passages is superb and the many fa-la-las are rendered with suitable joie de vivre. In addition to the expected mock-bucolic fare we have the more interesting Thule the Period of Cosmography/The Andalusian Merchant by Thomas Weelkes and the same composer’s Death has deprived me as well as Tallis’ considerable hit When shall my sorrowful sighing slake and Tomkins’ extraordinary Music divine, all given passionate and moving accounts. This is The Queen’s Six’s ‘difficult second album’ – their debut album (“Music of the Realm” RES10146) establishing them as the new boys on the block – and they have passed the test with flying colours.
D. James Ross