City Paper is not for tourists
There was a time when gentle and gallant swains would meekly prostrate themselves at their fair ladies’ feet and entertain them with serenades and ballads of true love and devotion. In those days, the Top 40 consisted of tunes from maskes, jigs, and galliards, dance forms that guided the motions of every slippered foot. In their ninth full recording, The Ladyes Delight, early music revivalists the Baltimore Consort have assembled an entertaining blend of tunes from Elizabethan England to entice the ear and tempt the tonal palate. From the lighthearted “Jumpe at My Cozen” to the unfortunately titled “The New Balow; or a Wenche’s Lamentation for the loss of her Sweet-heart, he having left her with a Babe to play her, being the Fruits of her Folly,” the Consort demonstrates its facility in interpreting these revealing sojourns into the workings of the Elizabethan heart, without the pretensions and affectations that plague so many period recordings in pursuit of “historical accuracy.” Soprano Custer LaRue lends her lilting voice to many a fine ballad, including “Yonder Comes a Courteous Knight,” a ditty dating back to 1609 concerning a damsel’s sly rebuff of a would-be suitor’s carnal attentions. The instrumental selections, mostly composed for broken consort (the Elizabethan term for a mixed instrument ensemble), are garnered from the Renaissance airwaves of street corners and great halls. And whether it be music composed for plays, like the tune “O Mistris Mine,” with text by William Shakespeare for Twelfth Night, or an arrangement of “Sola Soletta,” a popular madrigal from Italy, the Consort performs with an abandon the Elizabethans themselves could hardly disdain.