Friday, 24 July 2015

Hille Perl - Doulce Memoire

Rating: 5/5

A lovely, rewarding disc

I tried this disc because I like Hille Perl's work very much and I'll listen to anything that the superb Doulce Memoire choose to record. It turns out to be a little gem, full of lovely music and superb instrumental playing.

The disc is a collection of instrumental variations and transcriptions of vocal pieces - madrigals, chansons and so on - from the late 16th and early 17th Centuries. Some of the composers like Monteverdi, Ortiz and de Rore are familiar while others were new to me, but the standard of composition throughout is high. Played on a varied combination of viols, lutes and harp, it makes a very enjoyable collection.

The playing is superb throughout. Perl, who takes the lead on the disc, is on excellent form; her viola da gamba playing is expressive and nimble, and as always she draws a magnificent sound from her instrument. The other instrumentalists, including the brilliant harpist Andrew Lawrence-King, are just as good and the ensemble playing is smooth and empathetic to both what they are playing and to each other. It's all beautifully recorded and the effect is a joy; the disc is a real pleasure from start to finish.

Don't look for great insights from the written notes in the booklet, by the way. Whatever Hille Perl's gifts as a gamba player, her notes here seem to me to be almost meaningless in many places. On a piece by Willaert, for example, her entire analysis is: "Once more a plain version of a chanson. Five Italian viols...will give you pleasure my friend, and lead you where your hope aspires." Er...thanks, Hille - we'll let you know.

The music is what counts, though, and it's top-class stuff. This is a lovely and very rewarding disc, and I recommend it very warmly.

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