Music for Voice & Viols
Russell Oberlin (countertenor)
In Nomine Players/Denis
Lyrichord LEMS 8041
This disc can be purchased from the importer:
Silver Service CDs, 14 Balmoral Avenue, Shepshed, Loughborough, Leicestershire,
Tel +44(0) 1509 829301 Fax +44(0) 1509 829302
Originally recorded in 1958, this is quite a nostalgia trip. Denis Stevens
and the In Nomine Players (Maxwell Ward, Michael Mitchell, Dennis Nesbitt
& Francis Baines here) used to be featured regularly on the BBC's Third
Programme and introduced many of us to this repertoire in those pioneering
days. (I knew Desmond Dupré, and once took my son to visit him and
experience singing Elizabethan songs with a proper lute accompaniment.)
Stevens is a noted academic and had edited for this recording the eight songs
here, which are set in sequence with four of Byrd's pieces for viol consort.
Of those songs, three are from Sonnets & Pastorals -La Virginella
alone in Italian. There is a short version of the lullaby My sweet little
darling, two Psalms with simple voice parts embedded in elaborately
contrapuntal accompaniments, and an epitaph for a priest Why do I use
my paper, ink and pen, And call my wits to counsel what to say?,
a homily apt for our new era in which there is a danger of words vanishing
into the Web.
Russell Oberlin was well known, alongside Alfred Deller; he might
now be described as a haute-contre, a tenor with abnormally high
tessitura. The voice is robust and all the music is given in a straightforward
manner, with the cross rhythms, which are its distinctive feature, well pointed.
The presentation (8 pages which fold out in line) is attractive and the succint
commentaries are exactly what is needed. All words are supplied in clear
print. Track durations are given, which may help broadcasters, but prospective
purchasers ought not to have to add them up to discover, in this case, that
the total is very short measure at 38 minutes. Inexpensive, I do not doubt,
so this series will be well worth exploring.
Peter Grahame Woolf