Alfred Deller: The Complete Vanguard Recordings: French and Italian Discoveries (1200-1700)
Full tracklist at end of review
Deller Consort/Alfred Deller
Mary Thomas, Honor Sheppard, Eileen McLaughlin, April Cantelo (sopranos); Alfred Deller, Mark Deller (counter-tenors); Wilfred Brown, Gerald English, Robert Tear (tenors); Maurice Bevan (baritone); David Ward (bass); Helmut Hucke (soprano bombardon); Heinrich Göldner (tenor bombardon); Albrecht Renz (cornett); Hans-Martin Linde, Jürg Schaeftlein, Leopold Stasny, Johannes Koch (recorder); Ilse Brix-Meinert, Franzjosef Maier (fiddle); Johannes Koch, Rudolf Ewerhart (regal); Alice Harnoncourt (pardessus de viole); Hermann Hobart (bassfiedel); Hans Pöttler, Helmut Schmitt (trombone); Leopold Stasny, Ernst Knava (percussion); Franz Opalensky (flute); Manfred Kautzky (oboe); Neville Marriner, Peter Gibbs (violin); Kenneth Essex (viola); Desmond Dupré (viola da gamba); Derek Simpson (cello); Anthony Baines (contrabass); Desmond Dupré (luth); Julian Bream (lute); Denis Vaughan, George Malcolm (harpsichord); Kurt Theiner (portable organ); Harry Gabb, Herbert Tachezi (organ); Members of the Collegium Aureum; Concentus Musicus Wien; Wiener Kammerchor; Kammerorchester der Wiener Staatsoper; Ambrosian Singers; London Chamber Players; Alfred Deller, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Hans Gillesberger (directors)
rec. 1950s-1960s?
MUSICAL CONCEPTS MC 197 [6 CDs: 44:30 + 47:02 + 46:50 + 35:10 + 68:04 + 69:31]
Any assessment of recordings from the 1950s of music of this period (1200-1700) must inevitably disregard the advances in scholarship and understanding of such music since the recordings were made: to consider such recordings in the light of modern musicology is to consider them using a false basis of comparison. The only fair basis for their consideration must be their musicality and the extent to which the interpretations serve the composers’ intentions in terms of their emotional impact: musicians have, after all, always written music to act as a means of emotional expression, whether in the context of a celebratory song or of a religious ceremony; and these works were never intended for dissection by the musicologist’s knife.
Alfred Deller’s commitment to performing and recording pieces of a period that had hitherto been but little explored outside the rarefied atmosphere of the university lecture-hall is absolutely clear. However, I had difficulties with how this set might engage the listener in a meaningful way. The performances on the first disc, for instance, of sacred music of mediaeval France, have too little overall vitality and dynamic contrast – the acoustic, too, is unfortunate, the reverberation favouring higher frequencies and resulting in a rather harsh, tinny ambience that creates a sense of discomfort. The following secular works have rather more rhythmic vitality, but I find myself not wholly convinced by the choice of instrumentation: the effect produced by the combination of recorder and trombone is rather odd, leaving the listener to ask what the basis was for this interpretative decision.
Some of the performances suffer from a lack of clarity, which is an issue for concern given that this music has a horizontal, rather than a vertical basis, and, where the texture is too dense for the individual lines to be heard with distinctness and clarity, it robs the music of its natural vitality. This is especially evident, for example, in Guillaume de Machaut’s Messe de Nostre-Dame (CD2), where the use of instruments (which could be questioned in this context) obscures the vocal parts, making both the counterpoint and the text difficult to hear with precision.
The fourth disc is, perhaps, the most enjoyable of the set, with some splendidly energetic continuo playing and, although the instrumentation, style, and manner of playing would not be countenanced today (or, at least, not in early-music circles) it reflects well the drama and intensity of the text. The performance of Claudio Monteverdi’s Il Ballo delle Ingrate (CD5), too, is well-balanced, the lute placed prominently enough to provide an interesting enhancement of colour to the bowed strings’ tone, and with some lively and imaginative continuo playing throughout.
Although I would not choose these recordings as an introduction to works of this period, nor as particularly representative of music’s vitality, vigour and ingenuity, they are undoubtedly of great value as an historical document, and shed light on the manner and style of performance of such works when their discovery was recent and relevant musicological research still in its infancy.

Em Marshall-Luck
Of great value as an historical document. Sheds light on the manner and style of performance when musicological research was still in its infancy.

Full Tracklist

CD 1: Sacred and Secular Music of Medieval France
1 Anon. c.1200: Pater noster commiserans (Conductus) 5:35
2 Anon. c.1200 (now attr. to Philippe le Chancelier): Dic Christi vernal (Conductus) 2:44
3 Anon. c.1200: Alleluja Christus resurgens with clausula, "Mors" (Hallelujah for the fourth Sunday after Easter) 4:14
4 Perotin: Alleluja Nativitas (Hallelujah for the Feast of the Birth of Mary, c. 1200) 6:47
The Deller Consort / members of the Collegium Aureum / Alfred Deller, director
Alfred Deller, counter-tenor / Wilfred Brown, tenor / Gerald English, tenor / Maurice Bevan, baritone
Helmut Hucke, soprano bombardon / Albrecht Renz, cornett (1, 3) / Hans-Martin Linde, recorder (1, 3) /Ilse Brix-Meinert, fiddle (2, 4) / Johannes Koch, regal / Rudolf Ewerhart, regal (2, 4)
5 anon. c.1280: Hoquetus "in seculum" 1:02
6 anon. c.1280: Amor potest conqueri 1:15
7 anon. c.1300: In seculum d'Amiens longum 0:55
8 anon. 13c.: El mois de mai 1:03
9 anon. 14c: La Manfredina 1:15
10 Jehan Vaillant: Par maintes foys 3:26
11 Solage: Pluseurs gens voy 2:02
12 Matheus de Perusio: Ne me chant 1:42
13 Guillaume de Machaut: S'il estoit 1:54
14 Guillaume de Machaut: Comment qu'a moy 1:52
15 Matheus de Perusio: Andray soulet 0:42
16 anon. c.1400: Or sus vous dormez trop 4:22
17 Solage: Helas je voy 2:07
18 Magister Grimace: Alarme, alarme 1:57
The Deller Consort /Alfred Deller, director / Concentus Musicus Wien / Nikolaus Harnoncourt, director
Mary Thomas, soprano / Alfred Deller, counter-tenor / Robert Tear, tenor
Alice Harnoncourt, pardessus de viole / Hermann Hobart, bassfiedel / Jurg Schaeftlein, recorder / Kurt Theiner, portable organ / Hans Pottler, trombone / Leopold Stasny, recorder, percussion (tambourine, triangle, drum) / Ernst Knava, percussion (tambourine, triangle, drum)

CD 2: Guillaume de Machaut: Messe Notre-Dame
Guillaume de Machaut: Messe Notre-Dame
1 Kyrie 6:10
2 Gloria 4:29
3 Credo 6:08
4 Sanctus 3:48
5 Agnus Dei 3:21
6 Ite missa est 1:33
7 Perotin: Viderunt omnes (Graduale for the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ) 10:55
8 Perotin: Sederunt Principes (Graduale for the Feast of St. Stephen) 10:43
The Deller Consort / members of the Collegium Aureum / Alfred Deller, director
Alfred Deller, counter-tenor / Wilfred Brown, tenor / Gerald English, tenor / Maurice Bevan, baritone
Helmut Hucke, soprano bombardon / Heinrich Goldner, tenor bomardon (1-6) / Hans-Martin Linde, recorder (1-6, 8) / Albrecht Renz, cornett (7-8) / Helmut Schmitt, trombone (1-6) / Franzjosef Maier (1-6) and Ilse Brix-Meinert (7), fiddle /Johannes Koch, regal (1-6, 8) and recorder (7) / Rudolf Ewerhart, regal (7)

CD 3: Francois Couperin: Lecons des Tenebres
First Lesson
1 Incipit Lamentatio Jeremiae 0:43
2 Aleph Quomodo sedet 2:44
3 Beth Plorans ploravit 3:51
4 Ghimel, Migravit Judas 2:09
5 Daleth, Viae Sion lugent 2:58
6 He, Facti sunt 3:31
7 Jerusalem, Jerusalem 3:36
Second Lesson
8 Vau, Eet egressus est 2:25
9 Zain, Recordata est 3:21
10 Heth, Peccatum peccavit 2:02
11 Teth, Sordes ejust 3:09
12 Jerusalem, Jerusalem 2:31
Third Lesson
13 Jod, Manum suam 2:04
14 Caph, Omnis populus 2:09
15 Lamed, O vos omnes 2:56
16 Mem, De excelso misit 2:08
17 Nun, Vigilavit jugum 2:18
18 Jerusalem, Jerusalem 2:20
Alfred Deller, counter-tenor / Wilfred Brown, tenor / Desmond Dupre, viola da gamba / Harry Gabb, organ

CD 4: Michel-Richard de Lalande: De Profundis
Michel-Richard de Lalande: De Profundis
1 De profundis clamavi ad te Domine 5:27
2 Fiant aures tuae 2:05
3 Si inequitates 2:17
4 Quia apud 3:14
5 Sustinuit anima mea 4:24
6 Speravit anima mea 3:31
7 A custodia matutina 2:52
8 Quia apud Dominum 2:32
9 Et ipse redime Israel - Requiem - Et lux perpetua 8:28
The Deller Consort / Wiener Kammerchor (Hans Gillesberger, director) / Kammerorchester der Wiener Staatsoper / Alfred Deller, conductor
Mary Thomas, soprano / Honor Sheppard, soprano / Robert Tear, tenor / Maurice Bevan, baritone / Franz Opalensky, flute / Manfred Kautzky, oboe / Herbert Tachezi, organ
CD 5: Claudio Monteverdi: Il Ballo delle Ingrate
Claudio Monteverdi: Ballo delle ingrate, sv167 (text: O. Rinuccini)
1 Ouverture 0:32
2 Amore: De l'implacabili Dio 2:34
3 Sinfonia 0:27
4 Venere: Udite, Domne, udite 2:34
5 Plutone: Belle madre d'Amore 13:40
6 Amore e Venere: Ecco ver noi 2:52
7 Ballo 3:47
8 Plutone: Dal tenebroso orror 8:44
9 Ballo 4:23
10 Una delle Ingrate: Ahi troppo e duro 5:15
Amore: Eileen McLaughlin, soprano
Una dell'Ingrate: April Cantelo, soprano
Venere: Alfred Deller, counter-tenor
Plutone: David Ward, bass
Ambrosian Singers / London Chamber Players / Alfred Deller, conductor
Julian Bream, lute / Desmond Dupre, viola da gamba / Denis Vaughan, harpsichord / Neville Marriner, violin / Peter Gibbs, violon / Kenneth Essex, viola / Derek Simpson, cello / Anthony Baines, contrabass
CD 6: Deller's Choice (selections) / Italian Songs / Duets for Countertenors (selections)
1 Lodovico Viadana (aka Lodovico Grossi): Cento Concerti Ecclesiastici, Venise 1602 - Exaudi me Domine 3:30
2 Heinrich Schutz: Symphoniae Sacrae, Venice 1629 - In te Domine speravi 5:25
Alfred Deller, counter-tenor / Gustav Leonhardt, organ /Marie Leonhardt, violin (2) /Robert Scheiwein, cello (2)
3 Giulio Caccini: Pien d'amoroso affeto 3:27
4 Claudio Saracini: Pallidetta qual viola 1:06
5 Giulio Caccini: Amarilli mia bella 3:11
6 Marco da Gagliano: Valli profonde 4:48
7 Alessandro Scarlatti: Difesa non ha 1:53
8 Alessandro Scarlatti: O, cessate di piagarmi 2:59
9 Alessandro Scarlatti: Belleza che s'ama 1:21
10 Giovanni Pietro Berti: Da grave incendio 5:10
11 Alessandro Scarlatti: O dolcissima speranza 1:50
12 Claudio Saracini: Da te parto 3:11
13 Baldessare Donato: Dolce mio ben 2:53
14 Alessandro Scarlatti: La speranza mi tradisce 1:31
15 Giaches de Wert: Dunque basciar 2:31
Alfred Deller, counter-tenor /Desmond Dupre, luth and viola da gamba / George Malcolm, harpsichord
16 Cipriano de Rore / Bovicelli (vocal line ornamentation): Regole, Passagi di Musica, Madrigali, e Motetti Paseggiati, 1594 - Anchor che col partire (text: Alfonso d'Avalos, Marquis del Vasto) 4:18
Alfred Deller, countertenor / Gustav Leonhardt, harpsichord
17 Heinrich Schutz: Small Sacred Concertos, 1636/1639 - Erhore mich, wenn ich rufe 2:52
18 Claudio Monteverdi: Sacred Monodies and Motets, Venice, 1625 - Currite, populi, psallite timpanis, sv297 3:20
19 Heinrich Schutz: Kleine geistliche Konzerte- Der Herr ist gross 2:34
20 Claudio Monteverdi: Sacrae cantiunculae liber primus, Venice, 1582 - Angelus ad pastores ait, sv222 (text: Petrarca) 1:27
21 Claudio Monteverdi: Sacred Monodies and Motets, Calvo, 1620 - Fuge anima mea mundum, sv305 4:41
22 Claudio Monteverdi: Sacred Monodies and Motets, Venice, 1625 - Salve Regina, sv327 4:53