Musicke Of Sundrie Kindes 4 CD
Consort Of Musicke

One of the outstanding LP boxsets of the mid-seventies was Musicke of Sundrie Kindes, a wide-ranging overview of Renaissance music by the recently-formed Consort of Musicke led by Anthony Rooley. As an introduction to the sweep and range of Renaissance music this excellent collection was pounced on by people like myself, eager to get a handle on what was then largely unfamiliar music; it has not been significantly bettered even today. On four LPs, and now 4 CDs (4802147), this compendium devoted each LP side to a particular nation and style: Ars Perfecta, centred round the elevated music language of Josquin des Près and his contemporaries; the Fruits of Love, music from the Italian courts; les Cris de Paris, French chansons and dances; Fa La Li Le La, earthy Italian popular music and its influence; Quodlibet, music that fuses the international and local styles in Germany and Spain; Per Cantare e Sonare, madrigals and ‘canzone francese’ from Italy; the Merry Dumps, that very English paradox: gleefully melancholy music; and the Wind of Change, the Italian innovations that led eventually to Caccini’s Nuove Musiche and the Baroque. Some of the performances are a bit precarious—the solo voice and faster instrumental ensemble tracks in particular—but taken as a whole the set measures up very well, including a delectable version of Sermisy’s Las, je m’y plains. From the vantage point of the present it does admittedly look suspiciously like a temporal land-grab, a group knowing themselves to be spearheading the new wave of Early Music performance hubristically attempting to annex the entire 16th century to themselves—in his introduction to the informative and helpful liner notes Rooley describes the project as emerging from “the blind arrogance of youth”. But the achievement does justify the ambition: he later remarks “Even now it stands muster”. Absolutely!

Review reprinted with permission of Thomas’ Music.