Mynstrelles with Straunge Sounds: the earliest consort music for viols

A rapid transformation in musical tastes occurred in the years around 1500, with the widespread distribution of part-music in the new medium of print – it was in this context that the consort of viols emerged.

For their third recording on Delphian, the Rose Consort of Viols use a set of instruments modelled on those depicted in a Bolognese altarpiece dating from 1497. Peerless early-music mezzo Clare Wilkinson joins the consort in a sophisticated interweaving of voices that casts revealing light on the earliest music for this innovative ensemble.

"In this luxuriant survey of the period… the Rose Consort of Viols capture the explorative virtues of the music, as composers wrestled with the idea of extended structures free of textual framework. The players are joined in many of the tracks by mezzo soprano Clare Wilkinson, whose clean, unaffected singing adds the necessary contrast to the consort-only numbers."

"Wilkinson’s androgynous, straight tone chafes vividly against the viols – a smooth gloss on a pitted sound that creates necessary variety and beauty in a disc that might easily have been a historical curiosity."

"Wilkinson delivers the sung numbers with deliciously understated refinement; the viols play with alluring sophistication."

"The Rose Consort of Viols play diligently, if a little humourlessly, but all ears will be on the glorious singing of mezzo Clare Wilkinson. Her soft voice is totally beguiling in this intimate repertoire: full of elegant contours and no sharp edges, perfect for weaving among the gentle viols."

"For the more refined music, both sacred and secular, which forms the bulk of the collection the Rose Consort offer performances as good as you are likely to hear from a viol consort and Clare Wilkinson puts aside her Mummerset opening mode to excellent effect in the vocal items...A first-class album."

"Performances are quintessentially flawless, and the excellent sound and scholarly annotations are further plusses of this issue that is genuinely worthy of closer investigation."


"The four viol players of the Rose Consort play with a real sense of collaboration and cohesion, whilst ensuring that each instrument is independently clear and focussed, despite the sometimes wide range of pitch"


"Clare Wilkinson makes a fabulous sound, clear, even and bright, forming a lovely contrast with the viols."


Producer: Paul Baxter
Recording venue(s): Great Hall, Forde Abbey, Somerset
Recording dates: 26-28 November 2014
Physical format: Jewel case
Number of discs: 1
Number of tracks: 24
Release date: 28 August 2015
Total playing time: 1:07:20
Album ID: DCD34169

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