Upon a Time A mediaeval fable for recorder, pipe and tabor

Genevieve Lacey (recorder)
Poul Hoxbro (pipe and tabor)

ABC Classics Antipodes 476 155-9
TPT: 0:44:51

reviewed by Neville Cohn

This is a delightful compilation, a collection of musical miniatures, pieces drawn from mediaeval manuscripts kept at the British Library, the Vatican, Oxford’s Corpus Christi College and other libraries in Florence and Wiesbaden.
Apart from two pieces attributed to Hildegard von Bingen, all the music is anonymous.
A liner note points out that the printed folk tale (about a shepherd and his young son who are bewitched by mysterious forces) is not related to the music other than in the sense of dating back to a similar epoch. The music, moreover, does not follow the narrative sequence.
An attractively packaged CD is illustrated with Elizabeth O’Donnell’s haunting black-and-white photographs taken in Botswana, Italy and Australia.
All the arrangements of these ancient pieces are by Lacey and Hoxbro who present them with a finesse and an understated charm that make for delightful listening. The playing is uniformly excellent. The opening Estampie and Tre fontane are in the best sense danceable, the latter enshrining a melody that haunts the mind. Von Bingen’s Hodie, an unadorned, single line, is beautifully stated.
The engineers have done wonders; the recording (made in the Eugene Goossens Hall at the ABC’s Ultimo Centre) is first rate. But with a total duration of just under 45 minutes, this is a compilation that is tantalisingly brief and might to advantage have included rather more musical material.
Copyright Neville Cohn 2004


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