Garden of Early Delights

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COMPOSERS: Bassano,Castello,Dowland,Fontana and Marini,Ortiz,Schop,Van Eyck
LABELS: Linn
WORKS: Renaissance and Early Baroque music by Ortiz, Van Eyck, Castello, Dowland, Schop, Bassano, Fontana and Marini
PERFORMER: Pamela Thorby (recorder), Andrew Lawrence-King (harp, psaltery)
CATALOGUE NO: CKD 291

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This recital puts bells on recorder player Pamela Thorby’s already fine reputation, which she has steadily built through performances as a soloist and as a member of various distinguished period ensembles, as well as playing with jazz outfit Perfect Houseplants and featuring on some of Karl Jenkins’s albums. The album title’s play on ‘early’ and ‘earthly’ could effortlessly be stretched to include ‘earthy’: allied to a strong tone and precise articulation, Thorby’s playing exhibits a vitality, exuberance and earthiness that reminds me of the great David Munrow. It’s all underpinned by a strong lyrical sense, and her virtuosity draws up short of the efforts to epater les fogies characteristic of, say, Red Priest. With sterling support (of course) from Andrew Lawrence-King, the programme spans the last part of the 16th/first half of the 17th centuries, covering a period when composers were experimenting with new ways of setting, transcribing and imitating song-forms, and conveying emotions without the aid of texts. Thorby and Lawrence-King even manage to suggest the ghost of a wan smile in Dowland’s ‘Weep No More’. Barry Witherden