Collection: All the King’s Men

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Cornysh,Fayrfax,King Henry VIII,Wilder
LABELS: Metronome
WORKS: Hélas madame; Hey trolly lolly lo; Faulte d’argent
PERFORMER: I Fagiolini, Concordia
CATALOGUE NO: MET CD 1012

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I Fagiolini, minus its female singers, has teamed up with a similarly imaginative and lively young viol ensemble, Concordia, for this entertaining disc of secular music. Composers such as Fayrfax, Cornysh, Gombert and Josquin mingle with lesser contemporaries, named and anonymous. I Fagiolini throws itself with enthusiasm into a variety of styles, from the courtly laments of ‘Claros y frescos rios’ and Henry VIII’s ‘Hélas madame’, to the rumbustious peasant rhythms and rustic accents of ‘Hey trolly lolly lo’ and the Spaniard Mateo de Flecha’s dramatic shipwreck scene, ‘La Bomba’ (part of which appeared on I Fagiolini’s recent disc, Insalata), milked for all it is worth.

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Ensemble is excellent throughout. A brief lapse in intonation at the opening of Josquin’s ‘Faulte d’argent’ makes one realise just how spot-on it is the rest of the time. But the real star of the disc is Concordia, whose brilliant, fluid playing and magical fingerwork in the rushing quavers of the dances are remarkably free of the restrained, constipated sound that so often issues from viols. The disc is closely recorded, with no reverberance, which suits the immediate character of the music. Janet Banks