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The Bad Tempered Consort - Portuguese polyphony from the 17th century
Primeiro Tom
Entrada (Anonymous) [0:28]
Verso por D lasolre (Anonymous) [0:24]
Chírio (Anonymous) [1:08]
Verso Sobre Ave maris Stella (Manuel Rodrigues Coelho c. 1555-1635) [1:47]
Obra de registro de mano ysquierda (Pedro de San Lorenzo c. 1650?) [3:04]
Segundo Tom
Entrada (Anonymous) [0:33]
Tento (Anonymous) [2:15]
Obra e Passo (Pedro de Araújo fl. 1665, Anonymous) [6:27]
Quinto TomEntrada (Anonymous) [0:20]
Sobre Pange Lingua (Manuel Rodrigues Coelho) [3:26]
Fantasia (Anonymous) [0:53]
Tento por B-mol (Manuel Rodrigues Coelho) [2:32]
Sétimo Tom
Entrada (Anonymous) [0:19]
Chírio (Anonymous) [1:23]
Sobre o Seculorum (Manuel Rodrigues Coelho) [6:19]
Terceiro Tom
Verso (Manuel Rodrigues Coelho) [0:50]
Chírio (Anonymous) [0:53]
Obra (Anonymous) [3:32]
Sexto Tom
Entrada (Anonymous) [0:41]
Chírio (Anonymous) [1:01]
Batalha (Pedro de Araújo) [4:50]
Quarto Tom
Entrada (Anonymous) [0:32]
Verso por E lami (Anonymous) [0:24]
Chírio (Anonymous) [0:39]
Entrada (Anonymous) [0:25]
Verso (Anonymous) [0:31]
Chírio (Anonymous) [1:05]
Fantasia a Quatro (António Carreira? c. 1530-1592) [2:21]
Entrada (Anonymous) [0:21]
Quartus Tonus, Fantasia a Quatro (António Carreira) [1:44]
Chírio (Anonymous) [0:29]
Oitavo Tom
Verso (Anonymous) [0:16]
Tento de 8ş tom natural (Manuel Rodrigues Coelho) [3:15]
Phantasia (Pedro de Araújo) [6:04]
A Imagem da Melancolia (Voces materialium: Andrea Guttmann, Inęs Moz Caldas, Marco Magalhăes, Matthijs Lunenburg, Paulo Gonzalez, Pedro Castro, Pedro Couto Soares, Pedro Sousa Silva, Susanna Borsch; Vox humana: Magna Ferreira; Magister cantus: Pedro Sousa Silva; Artifex materiae: Adrian Brown)
rec. Igreja de S. Joăo da Foz (Porto), 5-9 February 2008


Experience Classicsonline

There is something special about a homogeneous ensemble of widely ranged but well matched instruments. The recorder consort A Imagem da Melancolia has a beautiful sound, using faithful reproductions of period instruments from several different museums. Little is known about the actual makers of these renaissance woodwind instruments, but Adrian Brown’s part of the booklet notes give a fairly detailed account of what we do know, as well as some of the acknowledged principles of ensemble formation of the time, including the universal issues of tuning, an aspect which seems more pronounced the earlier one goes with historical instruments. The other section of this leaflet, an essay by ensemble member Pedro Sousa Silva, does deal with some interesting thoughts on authenticity, but unfortunately also goes off in such a flight of fancy that it becomes neither informative nor really poetic for much of the time – at least, not in translation. Don’t also be put off by The Bad Tempered Consort title. This no doubt refers to intonation, which is as impeccable with this consort as their seriousness of intent, bearing no apparent relationship with S.J. Perelman’s humorous The Ill-Tempered Clavichord.

What Pedro Sousa Silva does point out is one of the things which may strike you about the sound of the ensemble: that the repertoire intersects with 17th century music written for the organ. When this ensemble is literally firing on all cylinders their sound can be compared with the wooden pipes of an early organ: albeit one with improbably expressive phrasing, and some remarkable differentiation of voicing. Just as with any flute ensemble or indeed the portativo organ, the balance favours the higher registers. The sweet resonances of the lower instruments support and murmur their rhythm, harmony and counterpoint, but rarely impose their rounded consonant OOOOs over the leading voices.

Variety comes in numerous guises with this programme. The ensemble has deliberately chosen a selection and ordering of pieces which are an “historical improbability.” Note: improbability, not impossibility. The styles and period nature of these pieces is as well matched as the instruments themselves. Contrast is brought about through rhythmic and sometimes gloriously syncopated works such as the Obra de registro de mano ysquierda on tack 5, or the light articulations which open the Fantasia of track 11. The gentle singing voice of Magna Ferreira contributes at a number of points, also adding a welcome change whilst keeping nicely within the concept. I commend the striking yet deceptively simple beauty of the longest track (15) on the disc, Sobre o Seculorum, where her voices rises above the consort with so much restraint it is harder than you might expect to separate her countermelodies from the other lines beneath. The concept of “authenticity” is re-shuffled rather than thrown out with the bathwater on this CD, and what the ensemble proposes “is a historically improbable programme built on criteria of historical probability”.

Marvellously well prepared and recorded, this disc is a quiet joy from beginning to end. I am especially taken with the unpretentious and unforced way in which the consort stays ‘within’ the dynamic of each piece: there are no tiresome solos or vapid improvisations here, nor any attempt to drive the music any harder than our 21st century tastes would sometimes seem to demand. I also admire the way this ensemble has created a ‘different’ concept with their programme without resorting to novelty in the way some other consorts have in the past. Attempts to bring early music up-to-date with off-the-wall arrangements or mixing the new with the old can be great fun, but run the risk of having a limited shelf life, both in the shops and at home. This is one of those recordings which has built-in staying power, and once you have allowed its special atmosphere to take hold you will be glad to have it to hand – most probably on quiet nights when the traffic noise has abated, and you can allow your thoughts to wander through distant and long lost realms.

Dominy Clements




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