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GRAMOPHONE (07/2021)
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Reviewer: Fabrice Fitch

Recitals focusing on Renaissance viol consorts are pretty thin on the ground. (One thinks back to a series of recordings by Fretwork in the Noughties, and more recently to ensembles such as Leones and Le Miroir de Musique.) Often they include a singer, but here, the Linarol Consort go it alone, with just four viols the whole way through. The focus is on a specific source, from the Austrian National Library (Ms 18810), copied in the mid-1530s and soon after incorporated into the library of the Fugger family at Augsburg (hence the subtitle ‘Viol Music for the Richest Man in the World’). The repertory is broadly Franco-Flemish but with a Germanic inflection (La Rue, Isaac and his pupil Senfl account for the lion’s share of the tracks). Weirdly, two settings of Sermisy’s ‘Jouyssance vous donneray’ are ascribed to La Rue (under another title).

The Linarol Consort play on a set of viols copied from the one surviving instrument by the Venetian luthier Francesco Linarol. The sound is marginally less ‘gamy’ than one is used to from this type of consort, the performances less incisive than those of the ensembles named above. (Compare Fretwork’s performance of the piece given here as Isaac’s ‘Gueretzsch’, there as La Rue’s ‘Si dormiero’, on their Agricola anthology – Harmonia Mundi, 11/06.) The settings of the ‘Tandernaken’ tune seem to call for more positive articulation. Because everything is well and carefully placed, the ensemble unimpeachable, this reserve may be a deliberate choice. All the same, one sometimes wishes that caution were thrown to the wind: even the jaunty title-track fails to catch fire.

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