Kate Bolton
BBC Music Magazine
May 2017

With its motley blend of music and mime, drama and dance, lavish costumes and sets, the Masque was the ultimate showbiz of Stuart England. Sadly, it is territory little explored on disc today, due to the fragmentary nature of the surviving music. Elizabeth Kenny's artfully planned programme is, therefore, a most welcome arrival, lacing together 'moments' from sundry 17th century masques with music by campion Coperario, Henry and William Lawes, Nicholas Lanier and Matthew Locke. Courtly airs, declamatory recitatives and pastoral dialogues jostle with tavern songs, tuneful ditties and boisterous instrumental numbers (originally intended for dancing bears and drunken revellers!). The whole is an eclectic hotchpotch, realised by equally varied performing resources: Sophie Daneman's sensuous soprano offsets the boyish voice of 15-year-old Rosana Wicks, while the airy trebles of Salisbury Cathedral Choir balance the earthier tones of the lay clerks and male soloists. Some of the more rumbustious numbers are a tad too polite, but the instrumental playing on a battery of 'twangling instruments' (lutes, theorboes, citterns, guitars, harps, violins and viols) is full of flair and improvisatory spirit. Linn's open and resonant recording is rather too churchy.