Elizabethan and Jacobean Consort Music - New London Consort - Classic CD

If the lineage of the pop charts extended a few centuries further back then half of the numbers on this disc would have been chart toppers at one stage or another. But popular material has always spurred Philip Pickett into finding ways of refreshing the familiar, and Morley's Now is the Month of Maying, for example, has "fa la las" for consort and vocal duo rather than a clutch of voices.

Something continually leaps out of the kaleidoscope, a recorder arabesque here, a neat string ornament there, and the singing of Catherine Bott and Michael George is suave and well balanced.

One of the strenghs of the group is that there is no weak link. There's as much pleasure and subtlety to be found in Paulo Beznosiuk's violin elaborations over the grounds of Brade's Coral or Barafostus's Dream as in Bott at her most inspired - as she assuredly is bobbing over the lines of It Was A Lover And His Lasse without the slightest hint of gravitaitional bruising. Mother Watkins's Ale of course invites the sort of sly salacious nudging in which she excels, but even the accompaniment is not without its libidinous innuendo.

At a time when record companies are increasingly favouring one composer discs, Pickett celebrates the strengths and serendipities of the well-planned anthology. This one - as usual - comes warmly recommended.

Classic CD
01 November 1993