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LABELS: Alia Vox
WORKS: The Teares of the Muses: Pavans, Galliards & Almains 1599
PERFORMER: Hespèrion XXI/Jordi Savall
Anthony Holborne was one of Queen Elizabeth I’s most cultivated courtiers. In 1599 he published an extensive anthology of dances with the title Pavans, Galliards, Almains and other short Airs. Holborne did not specify instrumentation but suggested as appropriate ‘Viols, Violins, or Other Musicall Winde Instruments’. Jordi Savall has assembled a chest or group of six viols – soprano, alto, tenor and three basses – with lute, chamber organ and small drum to perform these engaging pieces. The title of the disc, The Teares of the Muses, is taken from a galliard which appears as the second item on Savall’s varied menu. Though the piece in itself is only very mildly tinged with melancholy, much of the present repertoire inclines towards a melancholic state of mind. But there is also light relief to be found in several of the playfully accented dances with their catchy rhythms and warmly communicative melodies. Jordi Savall and the accomplished musicians of Hespèrion XXI (note the change of nomenclature to mark the new century) are among the very strongest advocates for this music that I have yet heard, and the disc (Vol. 2) comfortably matches the excellence of its predecessor in their ‘Elizabethan Consort Music’ series. An outstanding release.