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The Elfin Knight / Joel Frederiksen, Et Al


Release Date: 09/11/2007 
Label:  Harmonia Mundi   Catalog #: 901983   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Traditional
Performer:  Joel Frederiksen
Conductor:  Joel Frederiksen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Phoenix Munich
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews


Fans of English Renaissance song, specifically the ballad, will find in this new release from Joel Frederiksen and his Ensemble Phoenix Munich 78 minutes of pure pleasure. In fact, based on the enchanting affect of the singing, the expert and engaging arrangements, the well-chosen repertoire, and the engineering that perfectly captures the mood and character of voices and instruments, this CD goes directly to my list of "outstanding discs of the year". It's unusual to hear a bass voice in this repertoire--which includes many familiar as well as lesser-known songs--but Frederiksen's warm, resonant timbre, like the lower register of a large-sized viola--is absolutely perfect: soothing and
Read more mesmerizing, beguiling, sensuous, an instrument fully mastered and employed with both the naturalness and rare skill of a great storyteller.

Frederiksen's take on well-known songs such as "Greensleeves", "Whittingham Faire" (Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, & Thyme), "Watkin's Ale", and "Barbara Ellen" is uniquely fresh and thoughtful, and, except for the latter song, invariably lively, conveyed with consistently compelling singing and richly colored instrumental accompaniments--which may be only Frederiksen and his lute or a mix of gamba, theorbo, flute, and/or percussion.

Some songs are performed by tenor Timothy Leigh Evans, whose pleasingly bright, clear tone is an ideal complement to, indeed a tenor version of Frederiksen's bass. Other selections call on the entire ensemble (which may include countertenor Sven Schwannberger, who also plays flute, theorbo, and lute), which makes its greatest effect in selections such as "Lord Darnley" and especially in Thomas Ravenscroft's "Yonder comes a courteous Knight". I wasn't sure what to expect when I began listening to this recording, but within five minutes I was a committed fan. Several of the tracks--indeed, perhaps the entire program--easily could have a life far outside the immediate audience of classical vocal music listeners, simply because these performers not only know how to sing and play, but they know how to tell a story, and who doesn't love that?

--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1. Greensleeves by Traditional
Performer:  Joel Frederiksen (Lute), Joel Frederiksen (Bass)
Conductor:  Joel Frederiksen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Phoenix Munich
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; England 
2. Barbara Ellen by Traditional
Performer:  Joel Frederiksen (Bass), Joel Frederiksen (Lute)
Conductor:  Joel Frederiksen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Phoenix Munich
Period: Renaissance 
3. Watkins Ale by Traditional
Performer:  Joel Frederiksen (Bass), Joel Frederiksen (Lute)
Conductor:  Joel Frederiksen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Phoenix Munich

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