First issued by Argo in 1969 under the title ‘Elizabethan Words and Music’, this anthology of madrigals, poetry and pieces for lute is the latest reissue by Eloquence from the Purcell Consort of Voices. ‘Metaphysical Tobacco’ (480 7740) is another reissue as part of ‘The Tudors’, an Eloquence series which focuses on the composers who made England and especially London a capital for music in the 18th century.
The Purcell Consort of Voices was among the leading UK-based vocal ensembles in the early-music revival of the 1960s and 1970s. Its founder, Grayston Burgess, was schooled in the foremost Continental groups such as the Leonhardt Consort and Thomas Binks’s Studio der Frühen Musik. One singer to a part, light voices, clean attack, lively rhythms: these were the performance principles followed by Leonhardt, Binks and Burgess, who in turn paved the way for the likes of the Schütz Choir of London and the Monteverdi Choir.
Such principles ideally suit the Elizabethan aesthetic which is explored on this album through a telling juxtaposition of well-known works by the madrigal-masters Gibbons, Weelkes and Tomkins. They are linked by galliards of John Dowland (played by Robert Spencer) and the poetry of Sir Philip Sidney, recited by the actor Jeremy Brett, who was best-known for playing Sherlock Holmes in a long-running British TV series.