Music in a Cold Climate: Sounds of Hansa Europe

In Echo/Gawain Glenton (Delphian)

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Music in a Cold Climate: Sounds of Hansa Europe
Works by Kempis, Brade, Bertali, Albert, Sommer, Baltzar, Becker, Schildt, Holborne, Keeling, Staden and Schop
In Echo/Gawain Glenton (cornetto)
Delphian DCD34206 67:32 mins

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This project is strikingly original on all fronts. It is the debut release of the group ‘In Echo’, founded in 2016 by cornettist Gawain Glenton. The band’s members are budding Early Music stars from everywhere. Their programme is equally cosmopolitan, consisting of 17th-century works from diverse Hanseatic League cities, as well as Northern Soul by Andrew Keeling (b. 1955). Commissioned by the band, Northern Soul is recorded here for the first time, as are historical works by Johann Staden and William Brade. Upbeat tracks like Brade’s Peggie Bell, or Johann Sommer’s Paduana [pavane] Susanne un jour feature the kinds of high jinx you would expect from top-rate soloists. In variation-based pieces, cornetist Glenton, keyboardist Silas Wollston and violinist Bojan Čičić pull material out of nowhere, like magicians. Tragic numbers are, weirdly, a slight let-down: the execution of the pavane ‘The Image of Melancholy’, for instance, is elegant but doesn’t brood. The much-recorded Sonata a 2 of Dietrich Becker plods a bit, and this tempo exposes a couple of ragged phrase ends.

Keeling’s four-movement Northern Soul redeems passing lapses. The players seize on Keeling’s angular lines to create a four-movement work of haunting lyricism, their performance fierce in both commitment and intelligence. The specific qualities of each early instrument have fired Keeling’s imagination, and the band puts these qualities on display. Wollston’s performance on the baggy Renaissance organ at Romsey Abbey stands out especially for its cool authority. Overall, a fascinating journey.

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Berta Joncus