LABELS: Teldec Das Alte Werk
WORKS: Old Hall Manuscript; Madrigals; Lute Songs
PERFORMER: Pro Cantione Antiqua/Bruno Turner, Geoffrey Mitchell, Ian Partridge
CATALOGUE NO: 2292 46004-2 ADD
This ambitious set encompasses over two centuries of English music, beginning with a selection of sacred medieval works, mostly from the Old Hall Manuscript, and ending with madrigals and ayres from the time of Elizabeth I and James I. The pieces recorded here include works by Leonel Power, Thomas Damett, John Forest, John Cooke and Pycard; and there are also four works by Dunstable which survive in Continental sources. The recording was made in 1977, and even since then the interpretation of medieval music has undergone quite striking stylistic changes.
What makes these performances enduring is their innate musicality: the singing is intense, almost Romantic, compared to the controlled, cerebral approach of so many recent early music ensembles. The madrigals and ayres show quite a different facet of English music: on the whole, these are light-hearted pieces, bearing little relation to the highly charged language of the contemporary Italian madrigal. There are, however, a few works here which show a rare poignancy, and these are most sensitively performed. Kate Bolton