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Michael PRAETORIUS (c.1571-1621)
Dances from Terpsichore (1612) [48:38]:
Passameze/Gaillarde [3:36]
La Bouree [1:56]
Bransle De La Torche [1:58]
Bransles Simples/Bransles Gays/Bransles Doubles [4:27]
Bransles De Villages [4:02]
Philou [2:58]
Ballet Des Sorciers/Ballet Des Princesses/Ballet/Ballet De Princesses [3:19]
Ballet/Ballet Des Baccanales/Ballet Des Matelotz/Ballet Des Coqs [3:17]
Bransle De La Torche [1:20]
Pavane De Spaigne/Spagnoletta [5:46]
Passameze Pour Les Cornetz [1:47]
Courante M.M. Wustrow/Courante/Courrant De Bataglia [5:20]
La Sarabande [1:42]
Volte Du Tambour/Voltes [5:01]
Voltes [3:51]
New London Consort/Philip Pickett
rec. March, 1985, Henry Wood Hall, London. DDD
L’OISEAU-LYRE 414 6332 [48:38]



This is a classic. Over twenty years old, it represents what to many listeners fifteen years into the ‘early music’ revival of the early 1970s expected to hear: crumhorns, drone, simple percussive accompaniment and hurdy-gurdies. That’s on the one hand …
 
But on the other, Pickett and the wonderful New London Consort really were at the cutting edge of what was being done – at least in Britain – at that time. Many will remember Picketts’s Pageants from just after this CD was first released: it was in 1988 that Philip Pickett became Director of London’s Southbank Summerscope Festival of Mediaeval and Renaissance Music and the NLC caused something of a stir by their consistency, vigour and by the sheer joy and vitality they brought to what for many was still esoteric and ‘off-beat’.
 
The ‘Dances From Terpsichore’ had already become somewhat emblematic of the European Renaissance instrumental tradition. Crisp, short and punchy, eminently danceable and above all extrovert, they were conveyed as midway between the ceremonial brass music of Gabrieli and somehow more dignified than the Basse dance and its successors, both of which were also receiving popular recordings at that time.
 
Just as in his monumental Syntagma Musicum, Praetorius had tried to record everything that was known at that time about music and instruments, so in ‘Dances from Terpsichore’, he collected and arranged examples of popular dances. Nothing in the result is especially thought-provoking or likely to leave one’s emotions reeling. But the music makes a certain impact… the sounds of the instruments, the varied rhythms, the tunefulness.
 
Pickett with the NLC points these up and brings them to our attention in a professional, rather than a playful way. The result is – despite our familiarity with the music – that it has a certain freshness in their hands, which is bound to please. The gentle ornamentation in the little ‘Sarabande’ (tr 13) and the forward movement in the ‘volte’s (especially the penultimate track), for example, are truly terpsichorean.
 
As with all these Arkiv CDs you are getting a record company-authorised CDR at a favourable price, a reproduction of the original cover and back of booklet. The original liner-notes are not included.
 
It’s unlikely you’d want to sit your way through the CD day in day out in search of highly original and moving music. But, granted the selection Pickett has made and the high level of precise but energetic music-making, you’d not be disappointed either if you were new to this kind of music, or you wanted upbeat and unpretentious instrumental music by a superb craftsperson played with sensitivity and gusto.
 
Mark Sealey
 


 


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