I’m a big fan of The Baltimore Consort and their faithfully researched renditions of early music played on authentic instruments, and their performance at the National Gallery Sunday concert did not disappoint. With lutes, citterns, rebecs, flutes, recorders, a crumhorn, and richly-voiced countertenor Jose Lemos, the Consort wove a lovely, mellow tapestry of polyphony, evoking images of Middle Age Europe, sometimes rural, sometimes royal. In the spirit of Elizabethan-age improvisation, however, they make it a point not to adhere too rigidly to convention, and introduce their own brand of modern variation into the music — especially while playing toe-tapping excerpts from Playford’s Dancing Master. The result is a lively, almost country-music-like counterpoint, whose rhythm resonates with both the traditional and the contemporary.
(Now, of course, I find myself wanting to get my hands on all their albums.)