Music review: Food, Wine and Song by the Orlando Consort Restaurants, Wine, Travel, Opinions

Food, Wine and Song by the Orlando Consort

Reviewed By

Sue Dyson and Roger McShane

Music and Feasting in Renaissance Europe by The Orlando Consort
Recently, our writing sessions have been accompanied by some absolutely beautiful choral music from Europe's Renaissance period. However this CD is more than just some beautiful music. There is also a 120 page book with recipes from the period as well. So this can either be a music review or a book review depending on your preferences!
We have been enjoying the Harmonia Mundi production of songs of food and wine from France, England, Spain, Germany and Italy, sung with amazing authority by the members of the Orlando Consort. This occasional group of serious choral artists consists of tenors Charles Daniels and Angus Smith, countertenor Robert Harre-Jones and baritone Donald Greig.
They have sought out songs from the 12th to the 16th centuries from these countries and have tried to recreate the style of music of the time.
The topics turn out to be very similar to those today when we approach, say, a seafood market. Take the lovely Cacciando per gustar from 14th century Italy.
fresh anchovies!
Fresh, so fresh they're still squirming!
Fresh clams!
They all have their tongues out!'
‘And are those anchovies fresh?
Give me two portions of shrimps.
And are they as fresh as you say?'
And, although the Spanish motet Ave color vini clari sounds very reverential, we can relate to this early swipe at non-drinkers.
Therefore let us praise wine together'
And exalt drinkers;
On non-drinkers we shall bring confusion
Unto all eternity. Amen.
The reason we say that it could be a book review is that the publishers have also assembled a serious collection of recipes by some of Britain's leading chefs.
The ladies from London's River Café have produced some Italian recipes of the time (which don't seem all that different to what we might do now). However the recipes recreated by Jean-Christophe Novelli are far from simple.
Overall this is a delightful production with the music being a beautiful experience in its own right. However, dedicated food lovers will also enjoy learning more about reactions to food in Europe during this golden age.
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