Few recordings from the early music movement's infancy still sound good nowadays after advances in performance research, instrument-making and improved instrumental dexterity. The 1955 and '56 LPs collected here are notable exceptions thanks to the beautiful countertenor voice, emotive interpretations and impeccable musicianship of Alfred Deller. On lute and guitar, Desmond Dupre's accompaniments are models of modesty and restraint. For variety, Deller offers "Heigh Ho, the Wind and the Rain" and "Searching for Lambs" a cappella, and Dupre plays solo on "A Toye."
The program's an appealing mix of familiar and obscure. Most music-lovers will recognize "Coventry Carol" and "Barbara Allen," to say nothing of "Greensleeves" and "The Wraggle Taggle Gipsies," while other well-known songs are sometimes found under unfamiliar titles. (The track "Waly, Waly" turns out to be a variant of "The Water Is Wide.") Fans of both folk and classical will be enchanted by this timeless album.