COMPOSERS: Bernart de Ventadorn
WORKS: Troubadour music and plainsong
PERFORMER: Martin Best Consort
CATALOGUE NO: NI 5544
Martin Best has been presenting troubadour songs for years, and knows exactly how to do it in a pleasing – if not authentic – manner. Here, for example, only five of the 19 tracks are actually full-length songs from the 12th-century troubadour age (representing ‘human experience’): the others are either instrumental dances (‘earthly things’) or sweetly sung plainsongs (‘the world beyond’).
The pieces by Bernart de Ventadorn are particularly fine. Best surrounds Ab joi mou with a soft instrumental halo fitting the tender detachment of the words, but in Tant ai mo cor he misses the edginess and depth of the sexual passion. Everything is a little bit too bel canto, cocooned in lovely, spacious acoustics.
The instrumental dances, too, are sometimes distorted in the search for contrast and atmosphere, but it would be hard not to enjoy this nicely arranged concert-on-disc. Anthony Pryer