Renaissance

A painted tale

The young American tenor Nicholas Phan has rightly attracted praise for his performances of Britten, with whose music he identifies. It is very noticeable that he has welcomed on board many elements of Pears’ style, notably the latter’s use (particularly in his later years) of acciaccatura – launching up to a higher note from the lower one, like a mini trampoline in front of a vaulting horse. [...]

Flow my tears: Songs for lute, viol and voice

This is a recording of a concert from July 2013; this time it’s lute songs, which Davies sings beautifully and intelligently, as ever. I’m not going to bang on about countertenors and downward- transposed lute songs, and whether or not this a historical practice, yet again. [...]

Cavalieri: Rappresentatione di Anima & di Corpo

What price progress in the early music world? This new version of Emilio de Cavalieri’s seminal sacred opera falls both as to concept and performance a million miles short of Andrew Parrott’s 1988 recording of the 1589 Florentine intermedi. That famous entertainment was, of course, organised by Cavalieri, who also contributed music to it. [...]

Pavans and Fantasies from the Age of Dowland

Programming John Dowland’s seven ‘Lachrimae’ pavans in concert or on CD is always a problem. Should they be played as a single sequence or be interspersed with contrasted pieces? They are often grouped in suites with other pieces from the 1604 Lachrimae collection, despite Dowland apparently wanting to avoid conventional pavan-galliard pairs. [...]

Pedro de Escobar: Missa in Granada (c.1520)

This fine recording, made in 2000, was first issued on the Christophorus label in 2003. Escobar was originally from Porto; in the early 16th century he was music director and Magister Puerorum at Seville Cathedral, where he may have taught the young Morales. [...]

The Hunt is Up

Ross Duffin's Shakespeare's Songbook is quoted as the main source, though the scorings and adaptations are occasionally a bit odd. The main singer has an English accent that is a bit variable [...]

Gesualdo: Dolcissimo Veleno

La dolce maniera have adopted a highly original approach to the love madrigal here by taking at least one madrigal from each of Gesualdo’s published volumes, twenty madrigals in all, and arranging them into a ‘romantic song cycle’ charting the establishment, growth and eventual implosion of a romance. [...]

In the midst of life: Music from the Baldwin Partbooks I

Like his counterpart in Scotland Thomas Wode, John Baldwin is among a handful of musicians whom we have to thank for the preservation of the treasury of sixteenth-century choral music. Baldwin was particularly diligent, recording almost 170 works from early in the century right up to his own lifetime in the last quarter of the 1500s, many of which survive as unique copies. [...]
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