The Flaming Fire: Mary Queen of Scots and Her World

Tenor and countertenor Ryland Angel and virginal player Dongsok Shin join the viol quartet Parthenia for a introspective look at the musical world of Mary, Queen of Scots. The well-balanced program includes selections native to 16th Century Scotland (both sacred and secular), music from the English court Mary may have heard during her imprisonment, and even some settings of Robert Burns. Although Burns may be a little anachronistic, his poetry perfectly captures the emotional state of the music, and the essence of the Scottish character of it.

There are some real treasures here, such as “The Third Time” by Thomas Tallis (the theme that Ralph Vaughan Williams would use for a set of variations centuries later). Some of the composers, such as William Byrd and Robert Johnson should be familiar to listeners who enjoy the English renaissance repertoire. Scottish composers such as John Black, James Lauder, and David Peebles may be less well-known, but their music is of comparable quality.

Don’t expect jigs and reels with The Flaming Fire. This is, for the most part, a quiet and serene program. Not lugubrious, but there is a touch of melancholy in many of the selections. I found the program both evocative and restful, removed from the hurly-burly of daily life — whether of this century or the 16th.

The Flaming Fire: Mary Queen of Scots and Her World
Parthenia; Ryland Angel, tenor and countertenor; Dongsok Shin, virginal
MSR Classics

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