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- February 15, 2021

Like most bullies, Henry VIII was a notorious failure at romance and ultimately not good company. This is beautifully illustrated by the concise introductions and each of the seven songs attributed to the bluff monarch in this thoroughly charming compilation. The king’s fine musicianship is well attested and The Wandering Bard’s arrangements bring his compositions to life for a discerning modern audience.

Florid ornamentation and elegant soprano descants successfully conjure up the range of Tudor courtly music which was as elaborate as any in Europe. Henry’s entourage boasted top quality European musicians so it is fitting that this music is played today by a truly international ensemble. Soprano Kat Carson brings gives some delightful characterisation to the songs and the engaging narration. This is supported by a gently insistent drone that adds tension and helps link the programme together.

The enthusiastic voices of the BREMF Community Choir add an extra dimension to the dramatic effect of the nation’s lament for Queen Jane Seymour.

The Henry VIII Songbook has more than 30 works that purport to come from the King’s own pen, so perhaps we can hope for a volume two of this project.

14 February, 2021
Rating: ★★★★½
Andrew Connal

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