You may remember a film from the early 1970s called Henry VIII & his Six Wives, starring Keith Mitchell, Donald Pleasance, and Charlotte Rampling; it was notable for its score, which not only featured authentic music of the period (nearly unheard-of at the time), but also was, according to David Munrow, “the first historical film in which the music has been scored entirely for historical instruments.” Munrow also added a few numbers of his own to satisfy the needs of the movie, patterned after 16th-century style and form. Although these days such attention to authenticity is common, even expected, Munrow was one of the pioneers in bringing musicological research and the more immediate practicalities of really old, original instruments and stylistic practice to the level of popular culture. Of course, also in these early days was planted the impression that period instruments must necessarily be somewhat clunky and (to varying degrees) not quite ideally in tune–and in some cases, just plain annoyingly squawky and prone to obnoxious buzzing noises. While this generally fine issue from Testament offers many reminders of those times, when musicians were still finding their way in unfamiliar territory (and often using very user-unfriendly instruments), this release will prove mostly a delight for early music fans–and will be a real treat for those who own the original LPs from which these tracks were drawn.
In August 1986 two pairs of young sisters (Claudia and Livia Caffagni, Elisabetta and Ella de Mircovich) founded the ensemble La Reverdie. The name, derived from a poetic genre that celebrates the return of Spring, reveals perhaps the principal trait of a group that, for 30 years now, has captivated audiences and critics alike for the variety in its approach to the vast and varied musical repertoire of Middle Ages and early Renaissance. To mark this anniversary, Arcana brings together in a single 5-CD box-set all the themed projects that, over the years, La Reverdie has devoted to various aspects of Medieval culture.