Garden of Early Delights - Pamela Thorby & Andrew Lawrence-King - Bay Area Reporter

Recorder player Pamela Thorby and harp and psaltery virtuoso Andrew Lawrence-King's wonderfully recorded disc of renaissance and baroque music is a delight. The consistently entrancing program also scores points for its state-of-the-art, high-resolution SACD (super audio compact disc) format and DSD (direct stream digital) recording process, which together yield remarkable clarity on regular CD players, and create a realistic surround environment on multi-channel systems.

Thorby plays renaissance or "ganassi" versions of soprano, alto, and tenor recorders. Lawrence-King chooses copies of Italian baroque triple harp, Zurberan's double harp, and renaissance psaltery. The instrumental composers are less strict with authenticity, with the English following Italian fashion, and the French incorporating elements of Neapolitan and Venetian style. Many were pioneers, attempting to touch listeners on emotional levels previously thought possible only through vocal music liberally spiced with dramatic recitation.

The music is thus new in every sense, including early examples of what we would now call "walking bass." Diego Ortiz, Dario Castello, Johann Schop, Giovanni Bassano, Giovanni Battista Fontana, and Biagio Marini may not be known outside early music circles, but their efforts bring great pleasure. From the droll, faux na vet of Jacob Van Eyck's "Wat zal men op den Avond doen" to the characteristically mournful tone of John Dowland's "Sorrow, sorrow stay" and "Weep you no more," Thorby and Lawrence-King approach their virtuosic repertoire with consummate ease and joyful hearts.

17 July 2008