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Fanfare Magazine: 36:4 (03-04/2013)
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DG Archiv

Code-barres / Barcode: 0028947903772 (ID259)

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Reviewer: Barry Brenesal

Terpsichore, the 1612 collection of 300 plus dances arranged by the indefatigable Michael Praetorius, has proven a goldmine over the years to early-music ensembles, both in concert and on records. Not so the several collections of dance music created by his contemporary, William Brade, that only appears as an occasional piece on currently available albums. He gets 11 cuts out of 36 on this compilation, however, with almost all the rest going to Praetorius: Brade’s best showing since Jordi Savall and Hespèrion XX recorded an entire album of his consort music on a CD recorded in 1991, but now deleted. The mix of content on this album nicely balances popular pieces with others that go virtually unheard, and are every bit as attractive and varied in character. German and English dances predominate, but a couple, at least, have their origins clearly in French music, a couple of others suggest Silesian folk music, and at least one brings to mind an intabulation by the great Hungarian lutenist, Bálint Bakfark.

Capriccio Stravagante is described as a “Renaissance orchestra,” and with 22 performers on everything from bowed strings to recorders to cornett and trombone, they certainly deserve the title. Individual arrangements are performed by recorder, brass, or viol consort, or lute and guitar, or full ensemble with percussion—or sometimes a combination of the above, and even with one of the smaller groups or a solo instrument leading to the full ensemble. Yes, it’s anachronistic; a lively aristocratic party that utilized this music in the background wouldn’t have been able to handle the shifts in volume and intensity in this program, though a few wealthy guilds and some of the more extravagant nobility could at least have afforded the kind of salaries required to support this many players on occasion. Regardless, it’s enjoyable and expertly played, with Skip Sempé preventing matters from ever bogging down. The engineering is very forward and well balanced to suit the broad contrasts of the orchestra. In short, this is light entertainment of the period, served up with plenty of color and energy.
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