Pellingmans’ Saraband: Twenty waies upon the bels
Music by Thomas Ravenscroft, Thomas Robinson, John Johnson, Robert Smith, Nicholas Lanier, Thomas Campion, and Anon.
The distinguished viola da gamba and lute performers, Susanna Pell and Jacob Heringman, have been musical colleagues for some 27 years, and husband and wife since 1999. But it is only comparatively recently that they have started performing together as a duo, generally near to their home in Richmond, North Yorkshire: a very welcome addition to the non-London musical scene. This is only their second CD together although, on the basis of this excellent offering, I would hope for many more.
The basis for their programme is ‘circular music’, here represented by ‘grounds and rounds’ in the form of instrumental grounds (divisions/variations), lute songs based on grounds, and rounds from Thomas Ravenscroft, here sung four male singers. For the lute songs, they are joined by the excellent soprano, Faye Newton (pictured). The exquisite clarity and focus of her voice fits the musical style perfectly. Her rendering of the anonymous O Death, rock me asleep, is outstanding, with its beautifully timed final refrain of For now I die. In complete contrast, it is followed by two rollicking Ravenscroft rounds, New oysters and a round on three country dances.
The various musical forms are interwoven into a well-planned miscellany of 22 tracks, my only very minor quibble is the occasional pitch/key shifts between tracks: for example, the jump between track 1 and 2. In contrast, the occasional segues between instrumental and vocal tracks work very well.
Susanna Pell (pictured) and Jacob Heringman both play modern copies of instruments from the years around 1600. It was recorded in the very friendly acoustic of St Agatha’s Church, Easby, just outside Richmond. The CD includes introductions and texts in English only. This is an example of a self-published recording created through crowdfunding, an increasingly popular trend amongst musicians. It is available through their website https://pellingman.greedbag.com/. Further information can be found http://www.pellingman.co.uk/twenty-waies-upon-the-bels.html. Strongly recommended.