LABELS: ASV Gaudeamus
WORKS: Song settings
PERFORMER: Paul Rendall (tenor); Rob MacKillop (lute)
CATALOGUE NO: CD GAU 249
The situation here seems to be rather complicated. Alexander Montgomerie (d1598) was the favourite poet of James VI of Scotland, but he is not known to be a composer. However, 20 of his poems survive set to music for four voices. Some of the music was borrowed from French sources, but at least one piece is by a certain Andro Blackhall. Rob MacKillop has arranged them all for solo voice and lute ‘in the French style’, even though they have been published ‘on the English model’ by someone else. In addition, we have Montgomerie’s versions of psalm texts set to tunes from English and Continental psalters. Need a drink? Good, because that is probably the best way of listening to this extraordinarily mesmerising collection of doggerel and micro-dalliance.
The lute-playing is good, especially in the delicate little psalm tune arrangements played as solos. The singer has more of a challenge: he generates a nice sense of drama in ‘Evin dead’, but needs to develop more variety of vocal colour and a more daring sense of embellishment for strophic songs of this length. Even so, I raise a wee dram to both of them for a pleasant hour. Anthony Pryer