The Masque of Moments

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Campion,Coperario,Henry and William Lawes,Nicholas Lanier and Matthew Locke
ALBUM TITLE: The Masque of Moments
WORKS: Various works
PERFORMER: Sophie Daneman, Rosanna Wicks (soprano); Salisbury Cathedral Choir; Theatre of the Ayre/Elizabeth Kenny


With its motley blend of music and mime, drama and dance, lavish costumes and sets, the Masque was the ultimate showbiz of Stuart England. Sadly, it is territory little explored on disc today, due to the fragmentary nature of the surviving music. Elizabeth Kenny’s artfully planned programme is, therefore, a most welcome arrival, lacing together ‘moments’ from sundry 17th-century masques with music by Campion, Coperario, Henry and William Lawes, Nicholas Lanier and Matthew Locke. Courtly airs, declamatory recitatives and pastoral dialogues jostle with tavern songs, tuneful ditties and boisterous instrumental numbers (originally intended for dancing bears and drunken revellers!). The whole is an eclectic hotchpotch, realised by equally varied performing resources: Sophie Daneman’s sensuous soprano offsets the boyish voice of 15-year-old Rosanna Wicks, while the airy trebles of Salisbury Cathedral Choir balance the earthier tones of the lay clerks and male soloists. Some of the more rumbustious numbers are a tad too polite, but the instrumental playing on a battery of ‘twangling instruments’ (lutes, theorboes, citterns, guitars, harps, violins and viols) is full of flair and improvisatory spirit. Linn’s open and resonant recording is rather too churchy.


Kate Bolton-Porciatti