“Recorders greate and smale”     out on cd !!


“Recorders greate and smale”: The recorder consort at the 16th-century English court - three- to six-part works of Flemish, English and Italian polyphonists

The recorder consort had an exceptionally high status at the English court in the 16th century largely due to the fact that King Henry VIII himself was an enthusiastic player of the instrument. Indeed an inventory of his collection of instruments taken after his death contained no less than 76 recorders. The repertoire of the recorder in the early part of his reign consisted mainly of three and four-part vocal works and ‘consorts’ by English and Flemish composers like Loyet Compère, William Cornysh (ii), Robert Cowper, Robert Fayrfax, Heinrich Isaac, Hayne van Ghizeghem, Philippe van Wilder and even Henry VIII himself.

This all changed, though, when in 1539 five brothers of the Bassano family emigrated from Venice to form a consort of five recorders – in 1550 they were even joined by a sixth member. The ensemble’s six part composition remained fixed as such until 1630 and was actually the very first professional recorder ensemble in history. The repertoire of the ensemble included not only fantasias, in nomines, dances and vocal works by English composers like Byrd, Tallis, Tye, and Antony Holborne, but also madrigals, motets and chansons by Italian and Flemish composers like Giovanni Ferretti, Alfonso Ferrabosco (i & ii), Luca Marenzio, Horazio Vecchi and Orlandus Lassus.

[ set-list ]