"We are only at the very beginning of the immense task of understanding the vocal, instrumental, and choreographic practices of late sixteenth century France," writes this disc's annotator. It's Italy and its gigantic wedding spectacles that get all the attention at the end of the sixteenth century. (Imagine if Jenna Bush married the son of the president of Exxon Mobil and the White House enlisted hundreds of artists and musicians to build the ceremony.) This disc is, perhaps, for specialists, but it's a lot of fun for anybody.
This LP is separated into two parts: the first is dedicated to instrumental dances taken from Terpsichore, the huge compilation of dances made or collected by the composer….
"This is pure sizzle and great fun from beginning to end. The massive collection of French court dances that Michael Praetorius collected and arranged for his volume entitled Terpsichore in 1612 was just one in the extraordinary series of publications he issued within only 15 years…Rackets, shawms, Rauschpfeifen, many kinds of stringed instruments and much else are all chronicled here. And the music in Terpsichore is tailor-made for an imaginative and rich display showing the varied sounds of one of music's most colourful eras. In presenting this selection with a daunting array of different instruments and ensembles, Philip Pickett follows a tradition inherited from the German Collegium Terpsicore via David Munrow and many others. But this may be the first such record devoted entirely to the Terpsichore collection…
In all, there is a massive cast of nearly 40 musicians taking part, among them some of the most admired early-instrument names in London. There is any number of absolutely delicious sounds; and the groups are juxtaposed with quick-silver elegance. The performances include some imaginative departures from the sketchy details of Praetorius's harmonizations, though it is odd that so little embellishment was used. Perhaps that is a function of the functional 1980s, which here seems to avoid the kind of individual showing-off that made some of the earlier Terpsichore recordings so exciting. Here the excitement is in the vitality and cleanness of the ensemble sound…"David Fallows, The Gramaphone
Stile Antico's 2015 release on Harmonia Mundi, A Wondrous Mystery, is a sublime collection of Renaissance choral music for Christmas, presented in a pleasant mix of familiar German carols and a mass, with tracks interspersed for the sake of variety. This makes sense in consideration of the group's broad audience, which may know such popular hymns as Michael Praetorius' Ein Kind geborn in Bethlehem and Es ist ein Ros entsprungen, or Johannes Eccard's Übers Gebirg Maria geht and Vom Himmel hoch, yet be somewhat at a loss with the motet and Missa Pastores quidnam vidistis by Jacobus Clemens non Papa, a composer beloved by early music specialists but not exactly a household name for lay listeners. However, the a cappella performances are consistently beautiful and soothing throughout, and the quietly joyous mood of the music fits the album's title perfectly. The 12-voice choir's blend is well-balanced and transparent, and the ambience of All Hallow's Church, Gospel Oak, London gives an ideal resonance for the group's small size and close miking.
A Guide to Period Instruments: 200 pages full colour book + 8 CDs. Languages: French/English/German. This Guide to Period Instruments endeavours to answer the questions that every lover of early music has about the instruments used in these periods of music history. Text and recorded excerpts describe the origin and the development of every musical instrument from the Middle Ages to the end of the 18th century and place them in their historical context. There is a completely new presentation booklet, over 200 pages long and abundantly illustrated, as well as eight CDs of recorded examples of the instruments that shed new light upon major periods of music history.