You might be surprised.
Holly Ingraham | Honolulu, HI USA | 08/14/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Played on authentic re-created period instruments, medieval music does not sound like the modern. You will probably hear unexpected echoes of the Celtic and the Middle Eastern. What may surprise you most is the vocalist on the record. If you are not familiar with countertenors, you may expect the worst of tenors and sopranos, shrill and straining. Instead, you get a lovely, effortless, floating high-range voice. If you *are* familiar with medieval music, this is not the most impressive album I have ever heard (Drew Minter gets too trilly and belcanto for my taste here and there), but it is worth four stars and sticks to the Middle Ages instead of (as so many do) spending far too much time off on Renaissance stuff. In its own place; when you want medieval, you want medieval."
I'd Really Like to Praise This Performance...
Giordano Bruno | Wherever I am, I am. | 11/11/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"... since the two fiddlers, David Douglass and Mary Springfels, are excellent musicians, among the very few who can make the Medieval fiddle usually called the "vielle" sound like a serious instrument. Douglass in particular is an under-appreciated genius of pre-Baroque fiddling styles, one who could make sense to the hottest folk fiddlers of any culture in the world. All their efforts, however, can't make a troubadour out of countertenor Drew Minter. Remember this dialogue? "Drew, I knew Oswald von Wolkenstein, and you're no Oswald." Well, it's true. Hey, Neidhart 'n me, we're old buddies, ya see ... And Tannhäuser, he's my homey. Those guys carried sharp edges and held their mead in the company of serious menfolk.
Whatever the minnesänger and troubadours sounded like, it was not this overtrained, overstrained, Rossetti-esque languishing! Andrea von Ramm, of the old Studio der frühen Musik, sang most of these pieces with lots more gusto and authority 30 or 40 years ago. Ensemble Sequentia makes convincing music of the same material. The most implausible part of this performance is Minter's singing of the wistful love songs called the "Cantigas de Amigo," by the Galician troubadour Martim Codax. These songs BELONG to a full-blooded woman's voice. I think Andrea von Ramm recorded them, and I know they are included in a recording by Ensemble Alcatraz, in both of which performances at least the affect is plausible.
This is not intended as a blanket put-down of the Newberry Consort. Their CD "Il Solazzo" is as much rollicking musical fun as this one is mawkish, and their recording with Paul Hillier of Spanish music of the 15th C - "Cornago, Missa Mapa Mundi" - is one of the best."