Johnson, Dowland, Allison, Robinson, Farnaby, Byrd, Gibbons, etc

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Allison,Byrd,Dowland,etc,Farnaby,Gibbons,Johnson,Robinson
LABELS: Signum
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: The Queen’s Goodnight
WORKS: Music
PERFORMER: Charivari Agréable
This recording could well have borne the subtitle ‘Three musicians in search of a repertoire’. The members of Charivari Agréable, who between them play lute, bass viol and keyboard, here explore English music from the decades around Queen Elizabeth I’s death in 1603. Yet not a single work for that particular mix of instruments survives from the time, a problem they solve by arranging, adapting, substituting and peppering the proceedings with solo pieces by Byrd, Dowland, Gibbons and Tobias Hume. Only purists will object to the result, which is so delightful it makes you wonder why the Elizabethans themselves never thought of writing trios for this combination. Best of all to my ears is Richard Allison’s ‘Knell’, originally for a mixed consort of flute, viols and plucked instruments, which Charivari Agréable exquisitely simulates with the aid of a chamber organ. Pieces by Johnson and Robinson originally for two lutes work well when one part is played pizzicato on the viol. As for the ballad tune ‘Robin is to the greenwood gone’, played on bass viol with imaginative keyboard backing, its soulful sound melts the listener’s heart. In sum, a delightful disc, and a treasure trove of pieces that are very rarely heard. John Milsom