Stile Antico & Fretwork – Tune thy Musicke to thy Hart: Tudor & Jacobean music for private devotion (2012)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/88,2 kHz | Time – 01:04:35 minutes | 1,12 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download  – Source: Qobuz | Booklet, Front Cover | © harmonia mundi

For its latest recording on Harmonia Mundi, Stile Antico is joined by the outstanding viol consort Fretwork to explore the wealth of sacred music written not for church performance, but for the court and for the home. Sung entirely in English, this fascinating programme spans two centuries and a vast range of styles, from the austerity of Browne and Taverner to the harmonic daring of Tomkins and Ramsey, and from the smallest works by Campion and Dowland to the great verse anthems of Gibbons and Amner.

‘We are enjoined by this fine recital to bring nuance to distinctions between sacred and secular, and what we sometimes sloppily assume to be public and private modes of musical expression in 16th-century England. The very concept of ‘private musical devotion’ we might melodramatically associate with priest-holes, and Byrd’s Mass for Four Voices in a wardrobe. Some wardrobe it would have to be to accommodate the 12 exultant voices of Tomkins’s O praise the Lord, which is one instance of several on the album where the conceit is stretched thin: just because the piece survives in a private (as opposed to ecclesiastical) collection doesn’t mean that is its natural home. What’s more important is that Stile Antico’s sleek tuning and supple attention to words, and the studio recording, intimate but not claustrophobic, do bring a carefully plotted span (over 120 years) of sacred styles into our listening rooms with rare success.