Senfl: Songs and consort music

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LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Songs and consort music
PERFORMER: Charles Daniels (tenor); Fretwork
When I was a student, Ludwig Senfl appeared to be little more than an apparent typing error in the history books, his music all but consigned to oblivion. Full credit, then, to Harmonia Mundi for supporting a CD of this attractive but somewhat arcane repertoire. The selection here includes consort songs, drinking songs, hunting songs, settings of bawdy lyrics and popular tunes as well as love songs of high seriousness. It’s music of grace and sobriety in which Senfl combines a regretful glance back to the waning Middle Ages with an obvious delight in the new sound worlds. The sequence is consummately performed by these musicians, all of whom have grown up with the early music revival and who are perhaps now at the peak of their performing careers. Charles Daniels’s understated approach, and the way in which he has been placed in the recorded balance, makes him very much part of the consort texture – and aptly so. The usual plaudits apply to Fretwork’s flawless intonation and ensemble, but perhaps the most striking thing about this disc is the specially commissioned set of viols. The light, radiant sound of these instruments creates a veritable gossamer web around the voice. Kate Bolton