Composers: Morley, Robert Jones, Richard Edwards, Holborne et al
Compositions: Songs, dances and fancies
Performers: Danielle Svonavec s, The Baltimore Consort
Catalogue Number: Sono Luminus DSL92234

There are many hundreds of references to music in William Shakespeare’s work. There are cues for incidental music, but Shakespeare also refers to music, music theory, and instruments of his time, and of course included specific songs for performance in the text of his plays. Some of these were his own work, others were popular songs which would have been well-known to his audiences.

The Baltimore Consort’s first release in a decade is a lively collection of Elizabethan music from original productions of Shakespeare’s plays. The pieces were either referenced in the bard’s work or formed part of the incidental music referenced in stage instructions, and the well-researched liner notes comprehensively document the relationship between the music and each of Shakespeare’s plays.

John Dowland’s well-known King of Denmark’s Galliard and Tarleton’s Jig are both from Hamlet, for example, while the release also includes Thomas Morley’s O Mistresse Mine, a selection of works from Thomas Playford’s English Dancing Master, along with two renditions of Greensleeves.

English composer and lutenist Robert Johnson was known as Shakespeare’s composer, and the Consort has included his settings of Full Fathom Five and Where the Bee Sucks based on the earliest surviving manuscripts.

The versatile soprano Danielle Svonavec features throughout, while The Baltimore Consort’s shifting ensemble of viols, flute, cittern, and lute provide characteristically exciting performances of Shakespearean instrumental music. This is a release that will delight both enthusiasts and connoisseurs of Shakespeare and early music alike, and one that cements The Baltimore Consort’s deserved reputation as leading performers of early popular and courtly art music.