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Elizabethan and Jacobean Consort Music - New London Consort - BBC Music


01 November 1993
BBC Music

In early 17th-century English music, the details of the forces required were often vague...The result has often been merely pretty performances of songs, ballets and 'Fa-la's. This delightful disc demonstrates how Pickett's imagination and scholarship transform and refresh often familiar music. I've never enjoyed more Now Is The Month Of Maying, first on a consort of violin, recorder, plucked strings and viol, then with soprano and bass voices creating a wonderfully transparent ensemble.

Catherine Bott and Michael George, while full of character are beautifully focused and vibrato-free. Their tuning is spine-tingling, their words impeccable - put aside the booklet, sit back and enjoy a catalogue of bird-songs, two Dialogues between Nymphs and Shepherds, and a very naughty song about Mother Watkin's Ale.

Pickett takes a bold approach to 'divisions', decorating music which looks rather bleak on paper. The ornamentation here was improvised in the recording sessions, creating a sparkling sense of spontaneity. The dance is never far away either, with springy rhythms and shapely phrasing. This is an exceptional recording, not to be missed.


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