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Theatre of the Ayre - The Masque of Moments - Gramophone


01 April 2017
Gramophone
Alexandra Coghlan

The brainchild of lutenist Elizabeth Kenny, ‘The Masque of Moments' draws together songs, dances and ensembles from Campion, Johnson, Lawes and Locke, as well as anonymous works, into a brand new masque complete with its own narrative. It's a neat way of showcasing the 17th century's lesserknown composers in all their stylistic variety, and creates a programme capable of absorbing both the masque's artful and sophisticated lute songs (Lawes's ‘Sweet Echo' and ‘From the heav'ns now I fly') and the anti-masque's raucous ‘Bears' Dance' and anonymous ‘Tho' it may seem rude' (gamely West Country-fied by Giles Underwood).

Toured extensively as a concert programme back in 2007 08, this composite masque now belatedly arrives on disc, and it's all the better for having matured in the barrel for a decade. Kenny has assembled a crack team. The luteplaying (from David Miller, Jacob Heringman and Kenny herself) is, as you'd expect, gloriously skilful and varied in texture, stepping forwards for occasional virtuoso solos (the opening ‘Lord Zouche's Maske', ‘The Earl of Essex Measure'), and the violins switch from court to country tavern in a heartbeat, making rough magic of the many anonymous dances.

Soprano Sophie Daneman brings a career's worth of character to her contributions, and tenor Nicholas Mulroy balances Underwood's fruity comedy with some achingly refined melody-spinning. Teenage soprano Rosanna Wicks makes a striking debut with Lawes's ‘Sweet Echo', sweetly unaffected and ornamented with filigree care. The Salisbury Cathedral trebles are an unexpected bonus, adding to the sense of genuinely collective, community music-making that gives this recording such personality and charm.


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