Columbus - New London Consort - Classic CD
Listening to this extraordinarily stimulating disc, it's hard not to be reminded of Orson Welles's infamous remark about the Swiss and cuckoo clocks. Voyages of discovery aside, the background after all is one of rampant Spanish national fervour, the ravages of the Moorish wars and the inquitous Inquisition. And out of it comes an incomparable treasure trove of music represented here by the Palace Songbook compiled in the early years of the sixteenth century and the slightly earlier Cancionero Colombino from the library of Columbus's illegitimate son, the unfortunately named Fernando Colon.
Most of the songs are love songs, in turn vibrant, melancholic and even raunchily humourous - what would the Inquisition have made of the filthy stutterings of Dale Si Le Das!
Catherine Bott is just the singer for them. Her vocal purity is not of the bland, sexless variety and she can be coy, lascivious or desolate with the simplest of inflections. The accompaniments, sometimes pungent and peppery, at others just a sympathetic swaddling of viols, are entrancing as the instrumental items. But then Philip Pickett has always been one of the least po-faced of scholar-directors. If the Columbus anniversary bandwagon helps to sell extra copies of this CD then all the good; it should be in every collection.