This recording of music from renaissance Spain and Italy by the solo vocal and instrumental ensemble Kithara is a delight. The music, by Willaert, Ortiz, Mudarra, Valente, Picchi
Shirley Rumsey both contributes to this colourful plucked string section and sings. Her voice has a darker quality that is in many ways suitably Mediterranean, but she tends to stay in the shade when it comes to conveying emotion—by which I mean that her interpretative approach is a little shadowy and elusive, her voice creating an attractive dappled effect with the instruments, but never really asserting itself. Still, this works extremely well in such pieces as Bottegari's Non se vedde giamai with its richly expressive accompaniment.
How much of this is actually improvised for the recording is hard to tell (how one improvises for successive takes is one of the imponderables of the recording business), but it certainly has the appropriate flexibility or sprezzatura. Dinko Fabris, in his accompanying notes, emphasizes ''the true sensibility of the northern European travellers of that time'' in Kithara's interpretations of this colourful music. He's right in that in many ways the group sound very 'English', given the excellent teamwork and high level of musicality that fights a little shy of anything too extrovert. A very enjoyable disc neverthe-less.'