I got this CD when I saw them present this program live in Houston. They have combined 15th century music from the time of Vlad the Impaler with folk music from Vlad's general region. We get to hear Tim Rayborn say and sing the German poem by Michel Beheim about Vlad's deeds. Tim has an excellent driving, resonant, commanding storytelling voice.
Annette Bauer is the recorder player on this CD. She was away playing with Cirque du Soleil when I saw them live. Tom Zajac filled in for her - it takes an amazing musician to fill the shoes of another pristine player. Annette plays recorder the way you expect a world class figure skater to skate into a gold medal. Her grace and agility, flexibility and musicality are simply magnificent. Every judge raises their 10!
Shira Kammen plays vielle and harp on this CD. Vielle is the great-great...grandmother of the modern violin. Imagine rubbing two rubber bands together perpendicularly and expecting great music. The strings are gut and the bow is bent opposite a modern bow. Shira brings this instrument to life. There is an earthy quality to the sound. Her solos and supportive playing add richness and color and grounding.
Tim plays several stringed instruments sometimes as an accompanying player and sometimes as a stellar soloist. He is also the percussionist. The attention to audible detail on this CD is most evident where the percussion is concerned. Often times mixes drown out or dampen percussion. Tim's delicate and driving percussion is on fine display. Every intricate detail can be heard without drawing you away from the overall texture.
The above musicians sing some on a few of the tracks, but Phoebe Jevtovic is the lead vocalist for 7 of the 17 tracks. The thing that I love about medieval ensembles of this combination (both as a singer and audience member) is the use of the voice as an instrument. While the voice is an obvious focal point for those songs, the other instruments weave and connect around the singer. Phoebe's voice fits into this mode quite well. She has a tone that is strong, real, polished, but not pompous. All four members of the ensemble take their turns at solos and highlights. You hear her as equal in weight.
There is quite a variety on this CD. Laments to dances. The instrumentation varies and includes instruments I haven't even mentioned. These musicians bring music to life. They bring a collection of tunes and songs together to give you a auditory sense of the time. There is beauty, life, and contemplation in what they have created.
If you are vaguely interested in Medieval music, go now, buy it. These are some of the best musicians on the scene right now; you absolutely can not go wrong. The CD is on iTunes, CDBaby, and you can order it at www.canconier.com.