Exquisite Noyse

Music of the 16th century for violin consort
la voce del violino
Perfect Noise PN1501
Music by Arcadelt, Janequin, Josquin, Verdelot + anon & improvisations

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]here have been several attempts to explore the repertoire of the early violin consort, most notably Peter Holman with the Parley of Instruments and David Douglass with The King’s Noyse. Where they played primarily instrumental music, la voca del violino explore chansons and madrigals which sometimes survive in contemporary copies without texts. Using violin, two violas (the lower of which speaks particularly freely – and I mean that in a nice way!) and bass violin, sometimes with harp accompaniment, the make a most eloquent case for this approach to such music. I especially enjoyed rediscovering an old, old favourite, Josquin’s Ave Maria… virgo serena (which I first encountered on an epic tape recording – remember them? – by The Hilliard Ensemble). The booklet notes, as well as a stimulating essay on the early history of the violin, prints the texts with German and English translations; since the whole point is that the music does not require the words to work, I wonder how much this says about the way la voce del violino approached the project – did they, for instance, play from parts that showed the words, thereby helping them shape the lines? Or are the printed texts purely for the listeners’ benefit? Either way, I hope this is the start of a voyage of discovery that brings many a revelation; let us hear more liturgical music next time?

Brian Clark

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