Praetorius, Caroubel, Vallet, Besard, Dowland & Campion

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COMPOSERS: Besard,Caroubel,Dowland & Campion,Praetorius,Vallet
LABELS: Hyperion
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Dances from Terpsichore
WORKS: Works
PERFORMER: The Parley of Instruments Renaissance Violin Band/Peter Holman
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67240
Michael Praetorius (1571-1621) was one of the best-known German composers of his time. He concentrated on sacred works, but he also planned a number of secular collections named after the Greek muses. Terpsichore – a compilation of mostly French dances and melodies by Praetorius, Caroubel, Vallet, Besard and others – was sadly the only part of this series to reach publication.

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Peter Holman and his band reveal this music’s rich diversity in an intelligent and pleasing anthology. The violins play with arresting style in the opening medley by François Caroubel, culminating in a delightfully complex ‘Bransles’. Taut rhythms and fine dynamic control throughout carry the listener along most persuasively.

Vivid recordings enhance the more intimate atmosphere in the charming dialogue between the four lutes in the Nicolas Vallet pieces and in the texturally more varied ‘Spagnoletta’ and ‘La canarie’ by Praetorius himself. Caroubel’s rousing ‘Bransle simple’ and the captivating anonymous ‘Ballet’ (both for five-part violin band), Besard’s gently poignant ‘Une jeune fillette’ and Praetorius’s exuberant ‘Bransle de villages’ (invigorated by pipe, tabor and bagpipe) underline the expressive range of this repertoire.

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A collection of earthier English courantes and a group of festive ballets bring this highly entertaining programme to a brilliant conclusion. Nicholas Rast