Various Artists

Essential Renaissance

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Compilations of early music are not as common as those of Baroque or Classical, but the need for them is great and more albums like EMI's Essential Renaissance would be helpful to beginners exploring the field. This generous double-disc package presents works by the major composers of the period, including Guillaume Dufay, Johannes Ockeghem, Josquin Desprez, Thomas Tallis, Orlando Gibbons, Tomás Luis de Victoria, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Giovanni Gabrieli, and Claudio Monteverdi, among several other significant figures of European music from the 15th and 16th centuries. A few pieces represent dance and song forms, though the majority of tracks are choral and feature such renowned ensembles as the Choir of King's College, Cambridge; the Hilliard Ensemble; the King's Singers; and the Clerkes of Oxenford. The names of Stephen Cleobury, Paul Hillier, Philip Ledger, David Munrow, Andrew Parrott, and David Willcocks are familiar to most devotees of Renaissance performances. The selections are a mix of analog and digital recordings dating between 1965 and 2004, so the audio is slightly variable, but not enough to require volume adjustments.

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