The Baltimore Consort is a well-established early music group, and this year is touring a concert made up of music related to Shakespeare, since 2016 is the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death. They assembled a roster of twenty-eight pieces, some of which were known to have been composed for use in Shakespeare’s plays, and others which were quoted from or referred to by Shakespeare.
These were grouped into suites for various plays to which the music could be related. The concert was preceded by a very informative lecture that helped put the music in context.
The first half gave us music for As You Like It, Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, and Henry IV, Part 1 & The Winter’s Tale. There was a lot of fascinating music presented, some of it familiar, but most new to us. We were particularly pleased with the performances of “It Was a Lover and His Lass,” by Thomas Morley, “Les Buffons,” by Jean d’Estree, “Heart’s Ease (The Honeysuckle)” by Anthony Holborne, and “The Carman’s Whistle,” an anonymous broadside ballad.
In the second half, there was music for Hamlet, The Tempest, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Othello, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In this section there was a bit more emphasis on vocal music, with vocalist Danielle Sonavec appearing in costume as the Gravedigger from Hamlet on “In Youth When I Did Love,” and as Puck on “The Mad, Merry Pranks of Robin Goodfellow,” by Ben Johnson.
The performers were: Mary Anne Ballard, treble and bass viols; Mark Cudek, cittern and bass viol; Larry Lipkis, bass viol, recorder, krummhorn, gemshorn; Ronn McFarlane, lute; Mindy Rosenfeld, flutes, fifes, bagpipes, krummhorn. All the music was flawlessly presented by this very polished group, and sounded beautiful in the Church.
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