OF THE MONTH
Dvorak Opera Premiere
MichaelPRAETORIUS (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]
rec. March, 1985, Henry Wood Hall, London. DDD L’OISEAU-LYRE 414
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,
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
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.
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