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As you might guess, Consortium5 consists of five players, their instruments recorders encompassing a range from descant to bass. Little or none of their chosen repertoire was written specifically for recorders but then little of it was written for any other specific instruments – though viol consorts were probably uppermost in composers’ minds.

All the pieces belong to the 16th-century English Renaissance or, in a handful of instances, the early 17th-century. The great names are those of Byrd and Dowland but a second league consisting of Christopher Tye, the Alfonso Ferraboscos, father and son, Antony Holborne, William Brade, Robert Parsons and John Ward provide comparably interesting pieces in this context. Bringing up the rear-guard in the household names are Osbert Parsley, Edward Blankes, Edward Gibbons and John Eglestone.

The musicians of Consortium5 achieve a well-balanced and integrated ensemble that is especially rewarding in the imitative In Nomines of which there are a dozen included here. The overriding tenor of the programme is serious and sometimes I found myself longing for the alternative timbre of a viol consort. The sequence is leavened, though, with several playful dances among which those by Brade and Holborne deserve mention. You do not have to be a recorder player to enjoy this disc but it helps.

Nicholas Anderson Read the full review on Agora Classica


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Early Music Today, 2016 - ©Rhinegold Publishing