The Strad Issue: January 2010
Musicians: Jonathan Talbott (Renaissance violin), Tormod Dalen (bass violin) Maxine Eilander (double harp), Andrew Maginley (theorbo/guitar) Stephen Taylor (organ)
Composer: Striggio, Baltzar, Schop, Nau, Castello, Marini etc

This disc comprises an adventurous and engaging programme of violin works from the first half of the 17th century. The focal performer, Renaissance violinist Jonathan Talbott, contributes various unaccompanied items, notably a colourful Fantasia by Étienne Nau, a prelude by Johann Schop and a challenging prelude by Thomas Baltzar, performed with substantial accuracy, assurance, style and panache, and demonstrating striking lightness and freedom of bowing.

Talbott also has the gentle support of a skilled and versatile ensemble of instrumentalists, who find a wealth of colours and moods in this wide-ranging musical fare. They accompany his elaborate passagework in sonatas by Castello and in the anonymous Ruggiero and Bergamasca, testing divisions by Baltzar, and virtuoso variations on the ‘Coral del Sir Wilhelm Brad’, and they conjure up the spirit of dance in Marini’s Romanesca. Other highlights include madrigal arrangements by Johann Schop, Richardo Rognonio and Francesco Rognoni, Schop’s version of Striggio’s Nasce la pena mia taking the prize for its mysterious opening and echo effects, sensitively and convincingly conveyed.

These performances certainly have the scent of the early 17th century about them. The closely miked recording is respectfully resonant but highlights some occasional lapses of intonation and roughness of execution.