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Daily album review 2: A seductive English fancy from Chicago's Trio Settecento

By John Terauds on November 17, 2012

John Mark Rozendaal, Rachel Barton Pine and David Schrader of Chicago’s Trio Settecento (Janette Beckman photo).

Chicago’s period-instrument Trio Settecento has released An English Fancy, an enchanting 80-minute album devoted to 100 years of English chamber music, spanning the 16th and 17th centuries, ending with works by Henry Purcell.

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds, Editor-Emeritus of Ludwig van Toronto, is currently a Divinity student at the University of Toronto and a church music director. He joined the Toronto Star in 1988, was the classical music critic from 2005 to 2012, and continues as a freelance critic for the paper. He is the co-author of Roy Thomson Hall: A Portrait, a book written with Toronto Star Colleague, William Littler.
John Terauds

The trio — violinist Rachel Barton Pine, viol master (and Chicago Baroque Ensemble founder) John Mark Rozendaal and keyboardist David Schrader — pulled together this nicely textured survey with the help of the Chicago Classical recording Foundation, which has issued it on its Cedille label.

In several instances, including the opening nine-variation versions of Sellinger’s Round by William Byrd, the performers have prepared their own arrangements.

All of the great names in British instrumental composition from the time are represented, as are the two principal forms of playing instruments from the viol family, which replaced the lute as the most commonly played instrument at court (once it was restored) and in people’s homes.

These pieces and suites are not shy about borrowing from folk songs, nor about dancing. Trio Settecento performs the lot with an easy grace that lends itself as nicely to being overheard as background music or listened to in rapt appreciation of each composer’s and performer’s craft.

I have a soft spot for the perpetually off-kilter musical world of William Lawes (1605-1645), who is represented by a three-movement suite.

Purcell is, justifiably, well represented by one of his gorgeous Pavans, the Hornpipe from Abdelazer and a selection of Ayres for the Theatre, a best-of collection published shortly after his death.

Pine gets a particularly full, sweet sound out of her reproduction Renaissance violin, which she plays in authentic style on the arm instead of on the shoulder.

For all the details on this album, click here.

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds, Editor-Emeritus of Ludwig van Toronto, is currently a Divinity student at the University of Toronto and a church music director. He joined the Toronto Star in 1988, was the classical music critic from 2005 to 2012, and continues as a freelance critic for the paper. He is the co-author of Roy Thomson Hall: A Portrait, a book written with Toronto Star Colleague, William Littler.
John Terauds
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