PERFORMER: Amaryllis Consort/Charles Brett; Robert Aldwinckle (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: 30367 01752 1987
This disc was recorded nearly a decade ago and then, as now, I suspect that it sounded a touch outdated. The Amaryllis Consort’s blend of voices (capable of great expressive intimacy though each individual singer is), shows just too much of an over-cultivated quality, with the exception of Gillian Fisher’s pure, girlish soprano. But a sound musicianship informs these performances of 18 of the finest and best-known examples of the English madrigal form.
There’s Byrd’s metrically duplicitous ‘Dance in Green’, Gibbons’s stunning ‘Silver Swan’ and ‘What is our Life’, and three examples by Thomas Wilbye, arguably the finest madrigalist of them all, including the lovely ‘Weep, Weep Mine Eyes’. Robert Aldwinckle’s playing of five Elizabethan keyboard pieces breaks the sequence nicely. A succinct introductory essay by Peter Bamber accompanies the disc; but no texts, which is a shame. Stephen Pettitt