Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

Songs and Dances of the Renaissance & Baroque
Minstrelsy - Nancy Froseth, David Hays, Carole Hofstad-Lee, David Livingston, Phillip Rukavina
Lyrichord LEMS 8018 [48.59]
This disc can be purchased from the importer:
Silver Service CDs, 14 Balmoral Avenue, Shepshed, Loughborough, Leicestershire, LE12 9PX
Tel +44(0) 1509 829301  Fax +44(0) 1509 829302

Here's a very entertaining collection of instrumental and vocal music, largely from the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, but also including a couple of excursions into eighteenth century baroque.

Minstrelsy is a Twin Cities-based ensemble founded in 1989 and this CD was recorded in 1993, although it would appear to be recently released in the UK.

The playing is certainly expert throughout, from baroque violin, lute, viola da gamba and recorders. The instrumental numbers, in particular, taken from the Taffel-Consort collection (1621) are full of interest as are the suites and dances from composers as diverse as William Lawes, Michael Praetorius and Johann Pachelbel. Lively, stylish playing in a very natural acoustic and consistently perfect in intonation, this programme cannot fail to please the general music lover who is not so interested in complete works from one particular composer, but more in being entertained by a concert-type experience.

The songs are well chosen with Dowland's 'Time stands still' proving to be particularly affecting. Soprano Carole Hofstad-Lee has a clear bright voice which lacks, perhaps, the last word in individuality. 'I saw my lady weep' really needs the male tenor voice and a comparison with the artistry of Nigel Rogers (with Paul O'Dette) does rather prove the point.

Highlights include Thomas Arne's 'Under the greenwood tree' where the words 'winter and rough weather' are accompanied by very clever recorder playing expressing the cold weather, and 'When she cam ben, she bobbit' a Scottish folk tune which clearly demonstrates how close Irish Celtic music was to its Scottish equivalent at the time. The 'naughty' slides from the recorder sound altogether contemporary as can be heard today played by bands such as The Chieftains' or as incorporated in the dance music composed for the film 'Titanic'.

Very enjoyable - just a shame that there are less than fifty minutes of music on offer.


Simon Foster



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