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Waytes: English Music for a Renaissance Band Enhanced

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 26, 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Enhanced
  • Label: Navona
  • ASIN: B002YOJC7M
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,989 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By E. S. Wilks on February 9, 2010
Format: Audio CD
Since 1980, the seven-member group known as 'Piffaro, The Renaissance Band' has attained an unequalled reputation for excellence in performance and recordings of music from the late Medieval and Renaissance periods. Their latest CD, entitled 'Waytes,' offers music by famous English composers William Byrd (1543-1623), Thomas Tallis (1505-1585), and Thomas Weelkes (1576-1623), plus other works by lesser well-known composers. Several works are by 'Anon, ' who, as Michael Flanders (of Flanders and Swann fame) once humorously quipped, 'is writing some perfectly lovely stuff...' The performances and sound quality are exemplary.
The first thing evident about the CD packaging, in cardboard versus the customary jewel case, is that no program notes are evident. Why not? Surely most Renaissance-music aficionados want to read about the composers and their music; and some comments about the period instruments used, such as sackbut, krumhorn, shawm, and dulcian, would be enlightening. Then I noticed, in small print on the CD, the words 'enhanced CD.' What does that mean? Upon closer examination of the back of the packaging, I noticed a seemingly unimportant, small green rectangle in the bottom, right-hand corner containing some writing, turned sideways, in very small print. It says 'Place this disc in your computer to access exclusive interactive multimedia content.' Only then did I find comprehensive program notes, plus an extended tutorial on the period instruments used. Per se, these are splendid, but the big drawback is that neither is accessible to buyers who either have no computer or who fail to notice the statement in the small green rectangle.
Ted Wilks
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Format: Audio CD
After a gap of several years, it's great to have another CD from this superb renaissance wind band. Piffaro's programmes of early instrumental music from France, Italy, Spain, Flanders and Germany, on the DG Archiv and Dorian labels, were all brilliant and are still great favourites among the discs in this household - and, judging by the reviews, in many others too.

The Waytes of the title refer to the English town watchmen of medieval and renaissance times - called waits, waites or waytes - who would sometimes play musical instruments in the streets in the course of their duties. So this title would suggest a programme of music of an open-air character, but in fact we have here a diverse sequence ranging from the rousing, fanfare-like music of the opening and closing pieces to the more delicate and intimate, and in some cases to transcriptions of short sacred pieces. In any case, this is a fine and varied selection of music by English native or resident composers, well chosen and beautifully performed. My particular favourites are the majestic group of three Byrd transcriptions beginning with "Siderum rector", the anonymous "Goddesses", Bassano's gorgeous Pavane, and the concluding, curiously named "The song called trumpets" by Robert Parsons - a composer who deserves to be much better known - this piece amply justifying its title as played here with the distinctive, charismatic colouring of Piffaro's shawms.

Mind you, I could have done without the two vocal pieces, numbers 20 and 21, which I suppose are meant to be amusing but whose humour, for me at least, falls entirely flat in spite of the tenor's efforts.
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Never a bad CD from Piffaro, the Renaissance Band. Their choice of music for each album is consistent to the period they aim for, and their versatility and skill is amazing
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Absolutely wonderful! I listen to it over and over!
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