Terpsichore, Muse of the Dance / Skip Sempé


When it comes to the sound of a renaissance band, I have to admit that a raunchier one than is heard here has generally been more my cup of gruel. Give me blaring shawms, raucous bagpipes, rude crumhorns, thunderous drums and throw in a hurdy-gurdy once in a while - the bawdier the better! But I know that there's more than one way to skin a haggis. On this new Paradizo CD, Skip Sempé and his Capriccio Stravagante Renaissance Orchestra have created a program that not only includes some of the edgier sounds these bands can produce, but presents a wide range of instrumental textures and, perhaps more importantly, music of the Renaissance that has been overlooked.

Programs of music from this time have tended to favor frequently recorded pieces by Praetorius, Susato and Holborne, which has left a considerable range of music unexplored. Mr. Sempé cites William Brade, who is well represented here, as an example of a composer whose music has been unjustly ignored. In addition to Brade, Praetorius and Holborne round out most of the rest of the program along with two brief pieces by John Bennet and Moritz Landgraf von Hessen, two unfamiliar names that certainly deserve an appearance.

Mr. Sempé makes the case that renaissance composers wrote not only dance music, but art music as well, not intended to accompany dancers. The enormous variety of sounds produced in the dance numbers by mixing groups of strings, brass, woodwinds and percussion is enough to hold your interest, but aside from these spirited numbers are some very lyrical, beautiful and more profound ones.

Terpsichore, Muse of the Dance is the title of this album from the small Paradizo label. It's a great recording that serves perfectly to initiate new enthusiasts for renaissance music, but at the same time provides enough that is new to satisfy the already enthused.

For the 25th Anniversary of Capriccio Stravagante & Skip Sempe. Michael Praetorius: 3 Dances from Terpsichore: Passamezze, Galliarde, Ballet des cocqs.