Adequate performances but totally inadequate information
Maddy Evil | London, UK | 04/27/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"It is perhaps unfair to judge the performances on this recording (presumably made in the late 1950s/early 60s? - we are not given a date) by modern standards of early music performance. Yes, there are moments when the experimental nature of the approach is all too apparent, both in terms of the [im]plausibility of the interpretations and in the [at times] excruciating intonation (a particularly pertinent example is the shawm playing in track 10). But what is in fact by far the most deplorable feature of this recording is the utter sparsity of information provided - about the performers, the instruments, the composers, the repertoire, etc. Worse still, what little that is provided is often hopelessly inaccurate: sometimes in the form of blatant spelling errors (e.g. the Coventry Carol becomes here 'Lully Lullary', etc.), at other times factual blunders (the medieval 'Estampie' in track 10 is in fact a 16th century [i.e. Renaissance!!] tourdion, 'Quand je bois du vin clairet', whilst John Dowland's 'Frogg Galliard', c.1597, is here given an anonymous attribution...etc., etc., etc.).
In short, for those not acquainted with pre-Baroque music, this is NOT a good place to start!!! Seasoned Early Music connoisseurs, on the other hand, may find a perverse pleasure in some atrocious moments, or perhaps take interest in its value as an example of historically informed performance style in the pioneering years.
For those interested, here are some alternative recommendations if you are new to this music: firstly, 2 wide-ranging compilations by 2 well-known ensembles -
1. Sinners & Saints: The Ultimate Medieval and Renaissance Music Collection - The New London Consort/Philip Pickett (Decca 48559) 2. Moyen Âge & Renaissance - Hesperion XX/Jordi Savall (Auvidis Fontalis 'Portrait' ES9904), or indeed any of the other compilations by Savall and his ensemble(s) on Alia Vox (Harmonie Universelle, AV9810; Harmonie Universelle II, AV9839, etc.).
and lastly, a compilation (mostly of early music) featuring a number of different groups -
"PASTIME WITH GOOD COMPANY" 1998-2003 / Various Alpha Artists (Alpha, A901) [includes groups such as L'Arpegiatta, Le Poeme Harmonique, Diabolus in Musica, etc...]"
Excellent cross-section of early music
(4 out of 5 stars)
"While I understand the first reviewer's complaint about the crackling, it's only on the first two tracks (it's more like you're playing a record than being just unbearable), the rest of the tracks are clean, and I find that the loveliness of the music itself more than overcomes that shortcoming. Track 5, "Festive Sounds", a medley, begins with "Trotto" a rousing drum-driven piece that sounds like a medieval festival dance fest. If you are fond of medieval fair type music, this cd has plenty of lively tunes with the earthy and airy instrumentation authentic to the period. Well worth owning."
Don't Be Affraid
James L. Farmer | Fort Mitchell, Kentucky United States | 11/19/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This cd is worth picking up. Yes the first couple of tracks have pops and crackles in it. And yes it sounds as if the music was transfered directly from a vinyl source. But the performances and selections on this cd are fabulous. And you get use to the flaws in the recordings. Which I find minor.This cd was actually the first Medieval and Renaissance album I ever bought. I bought it randomly in 1992 to try and introduce myself to these two era's of Classical music. And it was PERFECT. I have been a loyal fan of Medieval & Renaissance music ever since. I currently own 25 to 30 cd's covering these era now. And this album is still one of my favorites......"
A very nice album for SCAdian ears
Laurel | New York, New York | 04/24/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a fun album. it's festive, playful, and a real joy to listen to. There is something for everyone in this album--including and especially SCAdians. In fact there's probably at least one piece on this album that every SCAdian dancer, musician, and/or bard will recognize. There's courtly songs, love songs, and get out of your chair dances, even formal pieces you associate with concert halls.
Whether you play in the SCA or just love great historical music, this is one of the better albums I've ever bought--on amazon or anywhere else!"