Oswald Von Wolkenstein

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COMPOSERS: Oswald Von Wolkenstein
WORKS: Knightly Passions – vocal and instrumental music
PERFORMER: Catherine Bott (soprano), Paul Agnew (tenor), Michael George (baritone), Simon Grant (bass)New London Consort/Philip Pickett
CATALOGUE NO: 444 173-2
If you think of the 15th century as cloistered and courtly, be prepared for a shock: Oswald was no ordinary man. With one eye, seven children, a mistress, a passion for travel and an awkward tendency to end up in prison, he poured the astonishing variety of his life into these brilliant pieces. The New London Consort are at their entertaining best here, slipping easily from tenderness (in ‘Der oben swebt’) to noise (in the terrifically evocative arrangement of the battle song ‘Nu huss’). Nearly always the sense of the poetry is allowed to override the music – though ‘Ach senliches leiden’ is presented with rather cautious phrasing and ‘Frölich, zärtlich’ might have been even more naughty. Not since Thomas Binkley recorded this repertory in the Seventies (on EMI/Reflexe) has the poise and passion of these works been displayed so clearly. Anthony Pryer