Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Blue Heron - Christmas in Medieval England
And I'm glad it is. The program is a collection of seasonal sacred music that would have been performed around 1440. Some of the selections should be familiar to classical and early music aficionados; Ther is no rose of swych vertue; Nowel, nowel, nowel, Nowel syng we both al and som, and the finale, Nova, nova! Ave fit ex Eva.
In this recording Blue Heron has a loose ensemble blend I find attractive. It gives the music a little bit of a rough edge that somehow makes it sound more authentic. Especially beautiful is the Angelus ad virginem for voice and medieval harp. Soloist Daniela Tosic sings with a warm, clear tone that tells the story simply and reverently.
I'm sure this recording has the best takes from among the three concerts, but even so -- the audience is particularly well-behaved for a live performance. There simply aren't any audience sounds at all until the final burst of applause. And that means there's nothing to distract the ear. The mics are well-placed, capturing the ensemble with just enough ambiance to give us a sense of space.
I have several medieval Christmas albums in my collection -- and as much as I like some of them, Blue Heron's is a real standout. Hooray for Kickstarter.
Christmas in Medieval England
Blue Heron; Scott Metcalfe, director