Verdelot is another of those capital figures with next to no discography, so here is his first book of madrigals, the first madrigal print dedicated to a single composer. In its infancy the form makes for a very different sort of listening from its later manifestations: the madrigal's roots in more popular genres is apparent, its connection with the French chansons more audible. Compared with later manifestations, its fresh simplicity is quite disarming.
Following their 'Air de Cour' recording for Linn (9/99) King and Heringman are joined once again by Charles Daniels, and a brace of lower voices make up the numbers in certain pieces. Elsewhere, the performances have a single voice accompanied by the lute, or just the lute on its own. This variety usefully illustrates how music from this early period of madrigal history lends itself to a great variety of performing options. It must also be said that without such variety, it might not be quite so easy to take in the whole book at one sitting: some of Verdelotís gestures become rather predictable, notably the closing plagal gambit over a top-voice pedal (in which both singers, but especially Daniels, show off an awesome lung capacity).
These are good, clean performances, but they rarely take off in the way one might expect from performers who have worked marvellously well together in the past. At times there is even something a little perfunctory about the shaping of lines and the pacing of events (try the imitative ending of Quanto sia lieto il giorno), little of the ebb and flow that can make madrigal performances so elegant: a valuable addition to the catalogue, but one that does not quite live up to its promise.
Fabrice Fitch, Gramophone, March 2001