Serenissima: Music from Renaissance Europe on Venetian viols
Rose Consort of Viols
rec. 29-31 May 2013, National Centre for Early Music, York
DELPHIAN DCD34149 [71.24]

The booklet notes to this disc explain that the 1500s saw an explosion in innovation in musical composition, particularly with respect to music for ensembles of families of instruments — such as viols or recorders — and in which all participants played an equal part. Venice, known as La Serenissima (The Most Serene Republic), hence the title of this disc, was one of the starting points and most important centres of such musical foment, given its innovations in printing music, and the fact that it was a focal point for travelling musicians, thus becoming a hub of new and imported musical ideas.

The disc – in which works are grouped by country of composition – therefore starts off in Italy, with five works by Costanzo Festa, Henricus Isaac, Philippe Verdelot and an anonymous composer. The Dutch Henricus Isaac and French Philippe Verdelot demonstrate how cosmopolitan Italy was then by their very inclusion here. We move next to Germany with three works by Ludwig Senfl, two by Orlando de Lassus, and one again by Henricus Isaac – who was employed by the Emperor Maximilian in Vienna, Augsburg and Innsbruck when he wasn’t based in Florence. France is represented by four composers – Claude Le Jeune, Tylman Susato, Pierre Sandrin and Cipriano de Rore, here with one work apiece. It would seem that England took a little longer to catch on, and music for viols only really took off after a number of viol players arrived from Venice in 1540. Yet fine pieces soon followed, as demonstrated by the works here by Osbert Parsley, Christopher Tye, William Byrd, Robert Parsons and Antony Holborne, along with Augustine Bassano – a son of one of those Venetian immigrants, and the Flemish Philip van Wilder, who was based in England for most of his life of composition.

The works themselves vary from the more lively and dancing, through to ones which accurately reflect the title of the disc. Performances from the Rose Consort of Viols – playing on instruments made by Richard Jones and based on Venetian viols by Francesco Linarol – are of an extremely high standard – convincing, well-voiced and with fine ensemble playing. The production values are also good, with excellent documentation and attractive presentation. Enjoyable music and enjoyable music-making.

Em Marshall-Luck

Previous review: Johan van Veen

Constanzo FESTA Three contrapunti on ‘La Spagna’ [4.46]
Henricus ISAAC Palle, palle [2.03]
Philippe VERDELOT Altro non e’l mio amore [2.51]
ANON Three dances [4.47]
Henricus ISAAC La my la sol [2.55]
Orlando DE LASSUS Im Mayen [1.06]
Henricus ISAAC Ich stund einem Morgen [1.36]
Ludwig SENFL Ich stund einem Morgen a 3 [3.44]
Ludwig SENFL Ich stund einem Morgen a 4 [1.42]
Ludwig SENFL Fortuna ad voces musicales [2.44]
Orlando DE LASSUS O sacrum convivium [2.44]
Claude LE JEUNE Première Fantasie [6.41]
Tylman SUSATO Doulce memoire a 3 [2.35]
Pierre SANDRIN Doulce memoire [3.04]
Ciprano DE RORE Kyrie [3.02]
Augustine BASSANO Pavan and Galliard [3.09]
Osbert PARSLEY In nomine [2.54]
Christopher TYE In Nomine ‘Howld fast’ [1.19]
Philip VAN WILDER Fantasia con pause e senza pause [4.07]
ANON Four dances [3.55]
William BYRD Fantasia [2.27]
Robert PARSONS A Song of Mr Robert Parsons [2.06]
Antony HOLBORNE Pavan and Galliard [4.55]

Support us financially by purchasing this from