If you were a Baltimore Consort fan during the ensemble's long run of recordings for Dorian during the 1980s and '90s, you will recognize many of the tracks offered in this new compilation, drawn from such discs as On the Banks of Helicon, A Trip to Killburn, and Tunes from the Attic. But now that the Dorian label has returned to life, its proprietors are not just simply reissuing the catalog but are making new recordings as well--and among this disc's 36 tracks are two from lutenist/composer Ronn McFarlane's brand new CD, Indigo Road, along with 11 other "new, unreleased" selections, all of which feature Mindy Rosenfeld, a founding member of the Consort whose flute and fife playing is aRead more highlight of the disc. The ensemble's popular longtime, now former flutist Chris Norman is also present, but his contributions--16 tracks--are all from earlier, albeit uniformly excellent recordings.
As the disc's title makes clear, the intent of the program is to highlight the Baltimore Consort's array of colorful period instruments--viols, fiddle, rebec, cittern, recorder, crumhorn, lute, bagpipe, bandora--and the virtuosos who play them. And that's certainly what we get--a virtual celebration of this world-class ensemble's extraordinarily stylish, spirited, and very well researched explorations of the traditional music of countries such as England, Scotland, Italy, Germany, and France, which always were presented in well-chosen, entertaining programs.
Add this one to that list, with special mention going to the elegant Praetorius "Terpsichore" dances, the gritty, lusty Scottish air "Whip my Toudie" (yes, that's really the title), the plaintive "Doun in yon bank" and "Johnny Faa" (two more Scots tunes), Morley's lively "Joyne Hands", and to the two compositions by Ronn McFarlane--Sycamore and Indigo Road--whose infectious rhythms and big-voiced lute sound command attention and whet our appetite for more of McFarlane's work. In all, this very well-recorded collection is an excellent sampling of the tunes, artful arrangements, and expert, entertaining playing style that has pleased audiences for more than a quarter-century--an easy recommendation!