Loquebantur: Music from the Baldwin Partbooks

Music from the Baldwin Partbooks performed by the Marian Consort, Rose Consort of Viols and Rory McCleery.

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Aston,Baldwin,Bevin & Sheppard,Byrd,Ferrabosco I,Gerade,Hollander,Lassus,Mundy,Parsons,Tallis
LABELS: Delphian
ALBUM TITLE: Loquebantur: Music from the Baldwin Partbooks
WORKS: Works by Parsons, Tallis, Mundy, Byrd, Aston, Ferrabosco I, Lassus, Hollander, Baldwin, Gerade, Bevin & Sheppard
PERFORMER: Marian Consort; Rose Consort of Viols/Rory McCleery
CATALOGUE NO: Delphian DCD 34160

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The most striking feature of this entertainingly varied collection is the consistently fresh, fruit-ripe tonal quality of the Marian Consort’s singing. It’s a pleasure in itself in Tallis’s Loquebantur variis linguis, where the forward-pressing tempo and neat interleavings of the imitative parts catches graphically the various voices and languages contending in the disciples’ Pentecostal moment.

The singers’ bright, gleaming colorations can occasionally work against deeper veins of expression. The pained introspection of the psalmist in Mundy’s Adolescentulus sum ego is somewhat glided over, and a similar reluctance to proactively parse and punctuate the musical line can be detected in some of the Rose Consort of Viols’ instrumental pieces – the rather po-faced traversal of Hugh Aston’s Maske, for instance.

More shape and contour, and more emotion, is evident in Derrick Gerarde’s Sive vigilem, with particularly expressive input from the two sopranos, and there is plangency also in the heartfelt imprecations of Ferrabosco’s Da pacem Domine. There’s some beautifully blended and balanced singing in Tallis’s Suscipe quaeso Domine, though again one notes a certain lack of specificity in the communication of text and meaning – the tone is perhaps a little too chipper for a setting of a confessional nature.

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Sensitive unison singing, and a firm bass lead from Christopher Borrett set Sheppard’s Ave maris stella purposefully in motion. Interpretively it’s the programme’s finest performance, the pacing more poised and flexible, the text responded to with notable insight and maturity. It brings the CD to a poignantly contemplative conclusion. Terry Blain