Music & Sweet Poetry Agree

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MUSIC & SWEET POETRY AGREE

Matthew White and ensemble

Analekta AN 2 9918

There is some lovely, elegant singing in this latest release of countertenor Matthew White, mostly a collection of 16th- and 17th-century English songs and madrigals, with a couple of instrumental pieces from the period as part of the mix. Canadian artists have become notable exponents of early music, and White is particularly prominent both on his own and with such groups as Montreal's Les Voix Baroques, for which he is Director of Programming. There's so much that is right about his performances on this disc--the purity of his tone, the clear diction, the careful attention to the musical line and the nuanced inflection to convey meaning. The acoustic of the Eglise St-Joseph de Rivieres des Prairies, where the disc was recorded in May 2006, is perhaps a little too reverberant for such intimate music, but the sound is nonetheless warm and has great presence.

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If I have reservations about the issue, they're about the repertoire. There are some lovely pieces here by the likes of John Dowland, William Bird, Henry Purcell, as well as nice discoveries in works by lesser-known contemporaries. …