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A sly and rollicksome good time!
on November 29, 2002
On this recording, the Baltimore Consort and the Merry Companions are full of fun, both blatant and tongue-in-cheek. Soprano Custer La Rue and the instrumentalists of the Consort are joined by a quartet of classical male singers (Peter Becker, Alexander Blachly, Paul Shipper and James Weaver) with quite a theatrical sense of humor. The two groups take turns presenting ribald tavern songs of merry old England, interspersed by light, catchy instrumentals listed in the credits as the "Prelewd", the "Interlewd" and a "Fresh Ayre". Drinking, sex and other bodily functions are both celebrated and ridiculed in songs that are cleverly worded and enthusiastically sung, and in at least one case, accompanied by a mysterious instrument (reminiscent of P.D.Q. Bach) called a "fartophone". Especially amusing are the "catches" or rounds, and the new meanings that result from the staggering of words when several different verses are all sung together. It sounds silly, and is silly, but that's the point of it all--celebrating the "earthier flavor" of life 17th and 18th century England. My copy came with a parental advisory sticker stuck fast to the case, but my mother didn't seem overly concerned, and in fact enjoyed it too when I played it for her! For more fun Renaissance vocals, both salacious and serious, try "All At Once Well Met: English Madrigals" by the King's Singers, and "The King's Singers' Madrigal History Tour: Italy, England, France, Spain, Germany" by the King's Singers and the Consort of Musicke.