Sunday, 21 June 2015

The Spirite of Musicke - Les Voix Humaines


An excellent disc

This recording is getting on for 20 years old now, but it's still a favourite of mine. It is of English viol music and songs from the early 17th century, and it's a rich mixture of the beautiful, the melancholy (of course) and the rather thrilling in some of the livelier movements.

Gamba enthusiasts like me will be familiar with composers here like Hume, Jenkins, Ferrabosco and Simpson and will know that they wrote wonderfully for the viol and the voice. Coprario was new to me, but his two songs here are excellent and I'm very glad to have made his acquaintance. It's a lovely programme.

The performances are excellent. Les Voix Humaines (Susie Napper and Margaret Little) have made a lot of superb recordings now, including their excellent Sainte-Colombe series, and this stands with their best, I think. They play with an easy virtuosity and a fine understanding of the music and of each other so that the whole thing sounds utterly natural. Suzie Le Blanc is excellent in this repertoire with restrained vibrato and just the right level of expressiveness to bring out the sense of the songs without getting bogged down in excessive melancholy. The whole thing is exemplary, I think, and a pleasure from start to finish.

If you have any interest at all in this repertoire, don't hesitate - even if you have some of these pieces in other performances. It's an excellent disc, very well recorded and with decent notes and full libretto (if that's the term for the words English to songs of this period - but you know what I mean.) Very warmly recommended.

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