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The year 1501 is an important one for music historians, as it marks the publication of the first printed publication of polyphonic music, the Harmonice Musices Odhecton. This was one of several driving forces in the sea change that took place around this time, and the development of the viol consort can be dated to this period; for this recording the Rose Consort use a set of four instruments modelled on those that appear on a 1497 Bolognese altarpiece. The pieces on this disc are drawn from a relatively small number of important sources, including a 1506 manuscript from Bologna and a collection known as the ‘Henry VIII Book’, so called for having been in the king’s possession. (In fact, the disc’s title comes from an account of music at Henry’s court in 1515 that describes the performance of musicians on instruments including ‘sagbuts, vyolles & outhers’.)

Few viol groups have ventured into this earlier repertoire on disc, and so it’s wonderful to hear such beautiful, clear performances by the Rose Consort of works of works that tend to be the preserve of vocal ensembles; Agricola’s ‘Cecus non iudicat de coloribus’ gains particular clarity and intensity from the Consort’s delicate playing. Mezzo-soprano Clare Wilkinson, no stranger to this repertoire herself, joins the Rose Consort for 11 of the 24 tracks, including spirited performances of Encina’s ‘Triste España sin ventura’ and ‘Fata la parte’.

Adrian Horsewood Read the full review on Agora Classica


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Early Music Today, 2015 - ©Rhinegold Publishing