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English music owes much to John Baldwin (c.1560–1615). A composer and Gentleman of the Chapel Royal (from 1598), he was an assiduous copyist to whom we owe not only two collections of Tudor music that bear his name, but also My Ladye Nevills Booke, the meticulous collection of William Byrd’s keyboard music.

The Baldwin Partbooks to which the present CD is devoted have come down to us with one of its six parts missing, necessitating some reconstruction in the case of pieces without other sources. The selection recorded here includes sacred and viol consort works by the likes of Tallis, Byrd and Sheppard, in addition to the lesser-known Gerarde and Hollander. The consort works are played by the Rose Consort with customary refined authority.

The Marian Consort has built an enviable reputation for coolly poised and precisely balanced performances and indeed there are times here where the listener can only sit back and admire, seduced by the sheer beauty of sound. Yet I’m often troubled by a lack of deeper probing into music and words, particularly in the settings of sombre penitential texts like Tallis’ magnificent seven-part Suscipe, quæso Domine, where the pain of sin is to my mind more powerfully conveyed in the admittedly larger-scale performance by the Taverner Choir (EMI). Nonetheless, I’m well aware there will be those who disagree. To them the CD is highly recommended.

Brian Robins Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Early Music Today, 2016 - ©Rhinegold Publishing