This disc has been released to coincide with the 500th anniversary of the first ever edition of printed music – Ottaviano dei Petrucci’s Odhecaton. It is paradoxical that a collection published in Venice and so seminal to the future development of music should devote itself almost entirely to Franco-Flemish imports from some half a century earlier. Many of these works are based on popular chansons from the Court of Burgundy – ‘Fors seulement’, ‘Fortuna desperata’ or ‘Jay pris amours’, whose beguiling melodies travelled Europe and inspired countless composers. Fretwork has created several effective sequences from pieces built on the same models, and the predominantly wistful quality of the music is punctuated with lively dances like ‘La Spagna’, ‘Tandernaken’ and ‘Dit le bourguygnon’.
After 15 years together, the members of this outstanding viol consort play with an apparently intuitive understanding of each other: their approach is characterised by the utmost refinement and nderstatement, their sound transparent and intimate. Anyone seeking extrovert passion will be disappointed, but these subtly expressive performances are fully in keeping with the spirit of the Burgundian Court, and a fitting reflection of Petrucci’s elegant publication. Kate Bolton