The Virginia Baroque Ensemble is releasing a fascinating album of American vocal and instrumental music.

The seventeen selections in SHINING SHORE Music of Early America range from Thomas Ravenscroft’s 1611 Remember, O thou man, to the American 1835 hymn Idumea. The styles and authorship encompass anonymous folk ballads, religious hymns, military marches, dance tunes, and even the well-known, I wonder as I wander, an original tune by John Jacob Niles.

In an intriguing collection of earthy and spiritual music about mortality and immortality, and about both the joys and vicissitudes of the here and now, the superb ensemble that also goes by the intriguing name Three Notch’d Road, features five multi-talented members: Steuart Pincombe, baroque cello; Michelle Pincombe, soprano; Dominic Giardino, historical clarinet; Peter Walker, bass vocalist, English guitar, Renaissance cittern, Appalachian dulcimer, and harp. Fiona Hughes, its Artistic Director, does multiple duty on baroque violin, voice, and harp.

The five musicians excel in consistently enchanting music-making that is unpretentious, straightforward, and honest, ranging from English composer Henry Purcell’s Well’s Humour, a lively hornpipe that opens the recording on an upbeat note, to the open-hearted Shining Shore that both closes the album and gives it its title.

This release is an indispensable addition to the collection of listeners interested in Early Music. It has been impeccably produced and engineered by the enterprising team of Dan Merceruio, Daniel Shores, and Joshua Frey, and given attractive packaging and insightful liner notes.

Rafael de Acha

Published in ALL ABOUT THE ARTS —

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