Music and Sweet Poetry Agree is an album of English music from the 16th and 17th centuries performed by Canadian countertenor Matthew White and the ensemble Les Voix Baroques. It was released on February 27, 2007 on the Canadian classical label Analekta.

The album features pieces by composers Henry Purcell, John Dowland, Matthew Locke, Thomas Campion, Thomas Hargreaves, Thomas Morley, John Wilbye, William Byrd, Nicolas Lanier and Joe Raposo (yes, really!).

Track listing

  1. Time Stands Still 
  2. Can She Excuse My Wrongs?
  3. Awake Sweet Love
  4. As By The Streams Of Babylon
  5. Never Weather Beaten Sail
  6. Who Keeps In Compass His Desires
  7. O Death Rock Me Asleep
  8. This Merry Pleasant Spring
  9. April Is My Mistress Face
  10. Adieu Sweet Amaryllis
  11. In Winter Cold
  12. Whereat An Ant
  13. Ambitious Love
  14. O God, That Guides The Cheerful Sun
  15. Fire, Fire!
  16. Almond
  17. Saraband
  18. Almaine
  19. The Marigold (Mark How The Blushful Morn)
  20. Air Maestoso 
  21. Courante 
  22. Allemande 
  23. Sarabande 
  24. Galliard
  25. Sweeter Than Roses
  26. Three Parts Upon A Ground
  27. Here The Deities Approve
  28. Bein' Green

Thoughts

I went into the album already impressed with Mr. White, having seen him in a performance of Messiah in 2009. The Classics Today review of Elegia, another of White's albums, describes the guy's voice as having "grace and warmth." I don't think I could possibly come up with a better description. The same review notes that he never sounds forced, always a key quality in a countertenor.

Standout tracks for me include Dowland's Can She Excuse My Wrongs?, Morley's April is in my Mistress Face and Purcell's Here the Deities Approve. White is particularly adept at the melismatic sixteenth-note runs in the latter. And yes, the album ends with a cover version of It's Not Easy Being Green, which caps things off nicely despite having no obvious connection to the album's theme. It's different, but not at all strange, to hear White's countertenor take on a song first made famous by a Muppet. It's not from the 16th or 17th centuries, but somehow it fits beautifully — especially with the string accompaniment.

The playing is also solid across the album. The instrumentalists of Les Voix Baroques — all period music specialists — even get a few chances to shine on their own, including the instrumental For His Majesty's Sagbutts and Cornets Suite in D Minor by Matthew Locke.

In all, this is one of my favourite baroque albums. I usually have it on while I drink tea and do crosswords (probably inspired by the cover art, a cup of milk in a green teacup. I guess I'm easily influenced).

References

Elegeia -- Matthew White & Les Voix Baroques
Analekta ¦¦ Music & Sweet Poetry Agree 

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