LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Food, Wine & Song
PERFORMER: Orlando Consort
CATALOGUE NO: HMU 907314
The acclaimed Orlando Consort has just changed recording labels, and for its debut CD Harmonia Mundi has really decided to push the boat out. Not only do we have a wonderful smörgåsbord of musical dishes, each celebrating food in some way, but also a lavish, hard-back booklet containing recipes collected from the same countries as the music – England, Italy, Germany, France and Spain. I’ve already tried one of the recipes (Orange Omelette for Pimps and Harlots) which certainly seemed more zestful than the performance of the egg song by Matthias Greiter with which it is paired.
In fact these are highly professional singers most at home with the ‘art music’ items. Their performance of Machaut’s intricate ‘Nes qu’on porroit’ is the best ever, and Ponce’s mock motet in praise of wine, ‘Ave color’, is presented beautifully but without a trace of irony. Sometimes the music needs to be blatantly sent up for comic effect, as in ‘Canto di donna’, which pretends to be about cheese (‘cacio’) but is actually about something else (‘cazzo’) which is ‘round and firm’. For consummate singers, as for consummate cooks, it seems to go against the grain to serve up a deliberate joke. Anthony Pryer