Ed Lyon / Theatre of the Ayre

17th Century Playlist

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The title of this release by tenor Ed Lyon suggests the music's affinity with the contemporary popular song, and indeed, of all the repertories that have been proposed for this connection, this one comes closer than most. Lyon's program is original, and he suggests that the songs, like those on a contemporary playlist, can be shuffled with little loss of effect. He's right, for most of the songs explore a singular idea: the new ground basses that flowered during the early Baroque, regardless of country. Lyon's titles are Italian, French, and English, taken from the opera, ballet, and chamber genres. They are, to use the modern word, full of hooks, and they are irresistible. The two Dowland songs toward the end of the program, slightly older in style but fitting in well, are familiar enough, but much of Lyon's program consists of music that will be new to most listeners, and the pieces sound as fresh today as they must have when they were new. Another attraction is the lively continuo accompaniment led by lutenist Elizabeth Kenny, lively and spare. You could sample the pastoral song Aux plaisirs, aux delices, bergères by the early French ballet composer Pierre Guédron, or dip in anywhere. The rather hollow sound from Delphian is a minor disincentive.

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