Recordings of the English 17th-century consort song repertory have overwhelmingly come from English musicians, but this French release from mezzo soprano Lucile Richardot and Ensemble Correspondances under Sébastien Daucé provides strong competition for others on the market. In a way this is unsurprising, for this English repertory reflected both French and Italian influences, the latter evidenced by the presence of the composer John Coprario (d. 1626), who was born plain John Cooper but adopted an Italian name for marketing purposes. There is nothing in Richardot's singing to identify her as anything other than a native English speaker, and the delicate singing in the multi-part pieces is a real pleasure. You don't get to hear the bass voice much in this music, so check out the work of Nicolas Brooymans in Robert Ramsey's Howl not, you ghosts and furies. Ramsey isn't a commonly heard composer, and neither are Coprario, John Banister, John Hilton (it is the Elder who is probably represented here), and a few others. The tone of almost all of the pieces fits the 17th century's favorite theme of melancholy, with only the finale, John Blow's Sing, sing, ye muses, offering a ray of light. But each piece has its own flavor, largely because of the detailed instrumental work of the unusually rhythm-heavy Ensemble Correspondances. The group includes such novelties as the bell-like tiorbino, a little theorbo, and multiple keyboard instruments from Daucé and harpsichordist Arnaud de Pasquale. Daucé also puts the pieces together into convincing little dramatic sequences, appropriate inasmuch as the play and the masque were this music's natural habitats. A beautiful and thoroughly convincing reading of unfamiliar repertory.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Suite, for 3-part consort & continuo No. 3 in D minor (Little Consort No. 3)|