The Baltimore Consort Live in Concert – Dorian DSL 90801, 71:03 **** [Release date: Sept. 9, 08] :

Dorian has of course issued a plethora of Baltimore Consort albums, and this is, I think, the first live release of their work, recorded at the First Scot Presbyterian Church in Charleston, S.C. during the 2007 Piccolo Spoleto Festival. The sound is rather lively, perhaps a little more than normal on their studio albums, and you can hear the resonance from the wooden walls of the church bouncing around your speakers.

The music is first class, ranging from 1508 to the mid-1600s, anonymous to Earle’s Songbook, and the playing everything you would expect from this solidly-established ensemble (with many thanks to Dorian for making it happen). The instrumentals are spirited and nostalgic in a way, with crisp and lusty ensemble work complementing the group’s always-fresh penchant for knowing how to put across a medieval ballade. New soprano Danielle Svonavec helps in this regard, adding a color to the ensemble that is quite different from the highly-regarded and much-missed Custer LaRue. Also making an appearance after a long absence is Mindy Rosenfeld, whose flute playing definitely livens up the performances.

So this is a fine outing, one of delightful propensities for making you smile and hum. Unfortunately I do have one gripe – one that I have harped on before and find little reason to desist now:  Omitting liner notes and song translations in order to reduce the environmental impact of the packaging. (They are available on the Dorian website in printable PDF format.)

This to me is intolerable, and I will continue to insist that fully professional products need to include notes, texts and translations, instead of sending us to the web, where the “printable” PDF file will no doubt take away the lives of as many trees as would including the notes in the package.  [Plus although you can print them large enough to be actually read, they will probably no longer fit into the jewel boxes and must be filed separately somewhere else…Ed.]

But the music is superb!

TrackList:
1. The gowans are gay (Forbes 1662)
2. Adew Dundee (Skene MS. c. 1630-33)
3. Kathren Oggie (Anonymous fiddle variations )
4. Through the wood, laddie (McGibbon – 1746)
5. Pentland Hills (Oswald- 1749)
6. The dark is my delight (Earle’s Songbook – 1615)
7. The shaking of the sheets (Playford- 1651)
8. Saltarello (Dalza – 1508)
9. Piva (Dalza)
10. Galliarde d’escosse (Phalese -1571)
11. Laroque galliared (Phalese
12. All in a garden green (Playford)
13. Jon come kisse me now (Playford-1666)
14. Newcastle (Playford)
15. Lord Ronald (Lord Randall) traditional, Ars of Kells Scotland
16. The Queen’s treble (Anonymous)
17. Green grows the rashes (Anonymous)
18. Fantasia (da Milano)
19. Recercada primera (Ortiz- 1553)
20. A lieta vita (Gastoldi – 1591)
21. On the banks of Helicon (Blackhall)
22. Les buffons (d’Estree – 1559)

— Steven Ritter