17th-Century Playlist

17th-Century Playlist
Ed Lyon, Theatre of the Ayre
Delphian DCD34220. 61’30

This debut recording from tenor Ed Lyon reflects his own playlist of music from the 17th-century. Many of them have that catchy ear-worm tendency to provide an immediate hook, although hearing 15 such pieces one after the other might help to reduce that effect.The recital opens with Alessandro’s exquisite Misero, Cosi va, a reflection on the pain of true love and, in the opera Eliigsbalo, a welcome relief from the sheer awfulness if the titular tyrannical teenage Roman Emperor Heliogabalus. The delicately sensitive opening instrumentalist realisation of the four repeated bass notes sets the scene for a recording of vocal and instrumental brilliance.

Four of the pieces are by Stefano Landi, son of a shoemaker in Rome who made his mark in Venice. Perhaps appropriately, the CD ends with Landi’s Canta la cicaletta, which tells of a cicada who buzzes its way to death with the ciaconna more cantado. Pieces from the regions of what is now Italy, France and England complete the European tour.

Ed Lyon sings with a light and assured tenor voice, a lovely sense of lyrical flow, and a sensitivity to the wide range of moods represented. There are two instrumental Sonatas by Fontana, featuring the excellent playing of Rudolfo Richter and Jane Gordon, violins, and Reiko Ichese, viola da gamba. Impressive continuo playing throughout the CD come from Elizabeth Kenny, lute/guitar/theorbo, and Siobhán Armstrong, harps.

The programme notes, however well written they are by lutenist Elizabeth Kenny, bear no relation to the order of the pieces. I don’t know why people do this in concert or CD notes. Following the order seems, to me at least, a simple enough approach.