The bizarre presentation of this disc by the Portuguese recorder ensemble A Imagem da Melancolia may be enough to put listeners off of the whole thing, but they'll be missing out on some attractive recorder arrangements of organ music if they let it happen. The bad news begins with the "Bad Tempered Consort" title, which is apparently supposed to be humorous; it doesn't seem to refer in any way to tuning, but it's hard to say exactly what it is supposed to mean. In search of an explanation, the buyer may step inside to the booklet essay, a self-indulgent and muddled exposition of the idea that musicians should be able to do pretty much whatever they want to with a score. Hidden somewhere in the snarl of prose is the perfectly reasonable contention that a listener in the seventeenth century would have perceived recorder consort music and organ music as first cousins. Performing organ polyphony on a group of recorders is, if not exactly commonplace, not the "dream, or even a delirium" the group unsuccessfully proclaims in the booklet. Several other ensembles have performed organ music this way, although the application of the technique to Portuguese organ music, not common in any case, may be a first. The notes don't find time to tell you exactly what it is you're hearing; the program consists of eight suites, numbered from first through eighth, with the number followed by the word "Tom," which seems to mean "mode." Many of the pieces are anonymous, but some of the composers are named, and there may be more than one in each suite. The ensemble's performances are very nice, and beautifully recorded; they use the tonguing of the recorders to bring out the polyphony and even to suggest the action of an organ. The group's ensemble is precise, and the low recorders are uniquely sonorous in the church in the city of Porto where the disc was very nicely recorded. Recommended for fans of recorder music who may enjoy the unfamiliar repertory.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Versets (3) on the fifth tone, for organ|