Songs, Dances, and Fancies for Shakespeare
The Baltimore Consort
Sono Luminis DSL-92234
It is good to see the Baltimore Consort back so many years after their glory days on the now defunct Dorian label. There have been some crucial changes in the line-up, but the group clearly retains its funky borderline trad. approach to early music which made their accounts of this repertoire so exciting. It is disappointing and a little puzzling that there is so little surviving music contemporary with and relating to Shakespeare’s plays, but the Consort do the next best thing here, assembling plausible repertoire with more or less tenuous links to a sequence of Shakespeare plays. If I felt the playing lacked something of the youthful energy and brio of some of the group’s vintage releases, this is an undeniably entertaining programme given the recognisably Baltimore Consort treatment. My only major reservation is one which applied equally to their earlier recordings, the rather uncomfortable ‘home counties’ pronunciation of the singer, in this case Danielle Svonavec, which seems entirely at odds with the gritty instrumental playing – the one exception, the archly ‘mummerset’ grave-digger is equally uncomfortable to listen to.
D. James Ross