Classics Reconsidered: The art of the Netherlands

Classics Reconsidered
The Art of the Netherlands 1450 - 1520
The Early Music Consort of London, David Munrow
Edward Breen & Fabrice Fitch

[EB] I discovered David Munrow through my parents who, typical for the late 70s, had Henry VIII and his six wives and Dances from Terpsichore nestled alongside Steeleye Span and The Rolling Stones. It was on vinyl that I first heard of this album, there's something so tremendously atmospheric about this analogue era which can be detected in the first two Josquin pieces: Scaramella is performed up close while Allegez moy is distant and dreamy — you'd never guess this was Abbey Road studios! Even today, as I stream on my iPhone, I remember that LP label spinning at 33 rpm. Eventually I wrote about Munrow for my postgraduate thesis, and despite being centrally concerned with his medieval music performances, I found many roads led back to this album. I'm told that latterly Munrow realized that instrumental music was on the periphery of the Renaissance and reformed his consort to tackle the sacred corpus of vocal music that he felt formed the musical backbone of that age. Sadly, he took his own life in May 1976 before those new ideas could be fully realised. I like to think that the beginnings of his new approach can be heard on this album.


To read the full text of this feature please visit Gramophone (features: January 2024)


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