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Laydie Louthians Lilte

Ballads, Ayres & Dances from 17th Century Scotland on CD, and live at St Bride's Church,London and Trinity College Chapel, Cambridge, 11 & 27 March 2009

Pantagruel: Hannah Morrison, Mark Wheeler & Dominik Schneider

Endymion END 070 [58 mins: 15.99 EUR including postage & packing]

Pantagruel are three musicians from four countries (England, Germany, Iceland & Scotland) with very different musical backgrounds. They took their title from Rabelais, play "what we simply call Renaissance Musicke. We use authentic instruments and techniques of the 16th & early 17th centuries" and they wear their scholarship lightly. The group is based in Germany and visits England infrequently.

Pantagruel's latest CD has been recorded by the group themselves at Colnrade, North Germany, with plenty of improvisation and to highest sonic standards. The sleeve notes are (deliberately) sparse and it is all packed intriguingly "in one of those new fangled Discbox-Sliders, with the CD in a good old fashioned "vinyl look" and a fold-out lyric sheet".

Details of multi-instrumentation etc on the tracks are not included, but can be supplied on request, helpful for those of us who may be a bit shaky about their citterns and gitterns. Essential background information (including a video of the making of this CD) is to be found on their website and at MySpace.

Hannah Morrison has a very distinctive voice and way of putting across a song. It is a pleasure to hear her pure, vibrato-less soprano in her native Scots. Diction is generally fine, if not obsessive about every last consonant, but as often with sopranos you can't expect to get all the subtleties of the words by ear alone. Listening enjoyment is greatly enhanced by following the songs on the lyric sheet.Of particular interest is an 8 minute version of Venus & Adonis, which is also featured in the artwork; the text is part-spoken and the accompaniment draws on several sources.

There was an opportunity to hear Pantagruel live in this programme 11 March 2009 at a free lunchtime recital in the ideal venue of a packed St Bride’s Church London - (pictured).

Next back in UK they'll be at Cambridge Early Music (Trinity College, 27 March) which I thoroughly recommend not to miss, as I do this splendid disc. Peter Grahame Woolf




A comment from Cambridge:

On Friday night Pantagruel played at Trinity College chapel.

I've seen 'pre-pop' music played with stupefying dullness by professional musicians and with no connection to their audience, but this was different.

This was probably how Renaissance music was really played when it was 'pop': with humour, with style, rocking like lute-rock-gods, talking with the audience and expressing every facet of life and emotion from high classical tales of love to bawdy tales of drunkenness.

Simon Satori


Anthony Rooley wrote about Pantagruel:
Pantagruel are astonishing - in several respects! From the first sounds they encourage you to enter a new sound-scape that is both pleasing and abrasive at the same time - you know instantly you are in for something special and different. Immediately they establish their credentials - musicians of impeccable skill and facility, intelligence and wit. They exhibit real "ethos" - that is, Truth within themselves - an 'authenticity' of purpose, an excellent sense of history, yet up-dated and relevant for Now. Here is 'Early Music' going somewhere quite new! I love them.”

See also
Pantagruel in Paris Renaissance Musicke
3 Mar 2009

St Bride's photos by Cecile Dubuis