Recording of December 1964: Music at the Court of King Henry VII

Trio Flauto Dolce: Music at the Court of King Henry VII
Jacobean Fantasias; Kleine Geistliche Konzerte (Schutz): Elizabethan Ayres; Sonata in e (Boismortier); Domine, Dominus Noster (Campra).
Martha Bixler (recorders), Eric Leber (recorders, harpsichord), Morris Newman (recorders, bassoon), Robert White (tenor).
Posthorn Recordings (footnote) TFD-1 (LP). Jerry Bruck, eng.

This is another disc that was submitted for review on the basis of our bitter complaints in the August 1964 issue about unmusical gimmickry in commercial recordings. Like the Phoenix disc reviewed elsewhere in this issue, this is a first release. It carries a technical note to the effect that it was made with "a minimum of technical fuss and electronic gadgetry," and like the Phoenix, it sounds that way.

The Trio Flauto Dolce comprises three recorder players (wind, not tape), two of whom double on harpsichord and bassoon. All of them are completely professional in technique, but they play with a spirit of grace and freshness that is not often heard from the average blasé professional musician. Robert White, the tenor who is featured in eight of these short works, has a robust, clear and superbly controlled voice, and an obvious appreciation of the songs.

The music, however, is hardly the kind of thing we normally think of as hi-fi fare. There are no tremendous crescendos, no floor-shaking bass passages, no massed strings or scintillating percussion—nothing in fact that would prompt the average high-fidelity hobbyist to haul out the record as a vehicle for demonstrating his system.

It does, however, have something that is rare enough these days to warrant our attention. Besides its purely musical values, which may or may not appeal to you, the recording is as clear, clean and "uncluttered" as anything we have heard to date. The stereo is natural, instrumental timbres are felicitous, and the surfaces on our sample were very quiet. We have in fact heard nothing (commercial) to surpass it in these respects, including the BBC broadcast transcriptions, which are unavailable to the consumer. It is not rich, or startling or incredibly anything; it is simply a superb medium for listening to the music for its own merits.

The music itself may or may not be your cup of tea. The recording is something you owe it to yourself to hear, and all we can add to that is that we feel the producers of the record deserve to sell a lot of them. Would that Victor and Columbia had a mind to record music this way.—J. Gordon Holt

Footnote: In 2018, Posthorn Recordings can be found at 142 West 26th Street #10, New York, NY 10001. Web:—John Atkinson