Gibbons, Wilbye, Morley

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COMPOSERS: Gibbons,Morley,Wilbye
WORKS: Ayres and madrigals
PERFORMER: Consort of Musicke/Anthony Rooley
CATALOGUE NO: 458 093-2 ADD/DDD Reissue (1975-83)
The earliest recordings in this magnificent collection of madrigals – those of madrigals from Orlando Gibbons’s First Set – date from pre-digital days. What strikes one forcibly on hearing the young Emma Kirkby singing Gibbons’s wonderful ‘The Silver Swan’ is the refreshingly girlish purity of her voice, the sound that compelled us all to refine our thoughts on the art of singing. Her colleagues were young then, too, and the likes of Martyn Hill and David Thomas blend effortlessly in consort as perhaps they could not today. Later recordings, by a maturer ensemble, of pieces by John Wilbye and Thomas Morley, are also well done, with perhaps a touch more reflective thought. The choice of composers could not have been more wisely made. These three really are the aristocrats of the genre. Stephen Pettitt