Notes and Editorial Reviews
One of the most influential recordings of early music ever made - the phrase “essential listening” is often used but it surely applies to “The Art of the Netherlands”.
...[This is] arguably Munrow’s most consistent and most polished collection, devoted to the sacred and secular polyphony of the mid-to-late fifteenth century. These recordings remain marvellously fresh and vital – even in the case of pieces that have since had more polished or more clearly recorded interpretations. That is especially true of the sacred music, recorded entirely vocally and (in most cases) one to a part. I challenge anyone to name a more tempestuous reading of Brumel’s “Earthquake Mass”, a more sombre, self-absorbed Intemerata Dei mater (this is still the only recording at super-low pitch), or more luminously clear canons (in Ave sanctissima Maria and Nesciens mater). In the recordings of secular music, the passage of time is rather more obvious. But idiosyncratic though it may now appear, the choice of instruments always combines flair and verve (the four settings of De tous biens plaine are a fine example). In the songs, tempos are rather more languorous than one is now used to, but Munrow’s finest inspirations still strike very deep (the Clerks’ Group’s recent, superlative recording of Du tout plongiet owes much to his). Though one is inevitably filled with a sense of loss at the thought of how much more Munrow might have achieved, one likes to think that if he were alive today, he would be as youthful as his recordings have remained. The phrase “essential listening” is often used (perhaps too often), but it surely applies to “The Art of the Netherlands”.
...[This set includes] a fine introductory sleeve-note by John Milsom (the attributions of individual pieces have since been revised)... [W]e are dealing here with one of the most influential recordings of early music ever made.
-- Fabrice Fitch, Gramophone [11/1997]