Garden of Early Delights - Pamela Thorby & Andrew Lawrence-King - Manchester Evening News

Renaissance music, when offered by today's performers on CD, can seem to be an unvarying succession of dirges and empty flourishes - but this collection shows how wonderful some of it can sound in the right hands.

The recorder playing is virtuosic in the extreme - the opening piece by Diego Ortiz is a knock-out - and it certainly helps that much of the music comes from Spanish or southern European sources, where they seem to have treated even the pre-guitar plucked string instruments in the thrilling way we recognise as Spanish from later guitar works.

There's a good selection of varied styles, with some solos for harp (and one for psaltery) as well as its accompanying role. Only the miseries of poor old English John Dowland change the mood of the generally sunny collection - I suppose someone had to.

04 July 2008