New York’s Ensemble for Early Music, Frederic Renz – Daniel and the Lions / Ludus Danielis (2004) DSF DSD64

New York’s Ensemble for Early Music, Frederic Renz – Daniel and the Lions / Ludus Danielis (2004)
DSF Stereo DSD64/2.82MHz | Time – 01:10:44 minutes | 2,79 GB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: | Digital Booklet |  © Fonè Records

Frederick Renz studied harpsichord with Gustav Leonhardt in Holland as a Fulbright Scholar. He was keyboard soloist with the legendary New York Pro Musica Antiqua for six seasons and founded the Early Music Foundation when the former organization disbanded in 1974. Under his enterprising direction, EARLY MUSIC NEW YORK has earned accolades worldwide for its vibrant performances of music and music drama from the Middle Ages through the early classical periods.

For his pioneering work in the genre of medieval music-drama, maestro Renz has received numerous accolades including commissions from The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Play of Mary Magdalene, Resurrection Play of Tours and Raising of Lazarus/Conversion of St. Paul; Sponsus: Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins), Spoleto Festival USA (Herod and the Innocents) and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine (Play of St. Nicholas, Daniel and the Lions and Le Roman de Fauvel). Frederick Renz has also received two Producers Grants from the National Endowment for the Arts’ Opera/Musical Theater Program and a grant from the Ingram Merrill Foundation.

A noted harpsichordist, Frederick Renz has given numerous solo recitals, appeared with orchestras and chamber groups in New York, and has recorded for Lyrichord, Foné, Decca, Vanguard, Musical Heritage Society, Musicmasters and Nonesuch. As an educator, Renz has served as Visiting Professor and Artistic Consultant for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Oklahoma, the Fundacion del Estado para la Orquesta Nacional Juvenil (Venezuela), the Athens Festival and the Tokyo Summer Festival. Mr. Renz was recently awarded an honorary doctorate from the State University of New York in recognition of his research and the performance of historical music

This scintillating album has received recognition for its performance and sound. New York’s Ensemble for Early Music revitalizes the pieces with vivid color and authentic instruments and technique. Frederick Renz leads the ensemble through this theatrical reading of the Ludus Danielis.

Specialists in the music and music-drama of the medieval and renaissance periods, New York’s Ensemble for Early Music is world-renowned for its scintillating performances of everything from bawdy ballads of worldly brilliance to the mystical glories of sacred motets. Consisting of young, American virtuoso specialists, the Ensemble vividly recreates the rich colors of the era by using an array of authentic instruments and techniques of performance that blend imaginative insight with sound scholarship.

The Play of Daniel (Ludus Danielis) is a medieval work, part of a Christmas cycle of liturgical dramas presenting the story of Daniel: his interpretation of :the writing on the wall”, his elevation to Belshazar’s advisor, and the attempt of jealous court members to destroy him. It was written by members of the Episcopal School of Beauvais, c. 1140. The Play of Daniel is not new to recordings.

The first recording (as far as I know) was of Noah Greenberg conducting the New York Pro Musica in 1958 (Decca DL 7 9402). It was available on a now-deleted two-CD MCA set, with The Play of Herod.

I tried without success to find the Greenberg recording for comparison, not only for performance style and quality, but to learn why the Renz recording is 30 minutes longer, and (I hoped) to resolve the issue raised by the following comment in the liner notes: “The music of the Ludus Danielis was transcribed and furnished with suitable rhythmic patterns by Frederick Renz. He also added the instrumentation as suggested by the melody and by his knowledge of how medieval music was performed, transforming the Ludus Danielis into a living and colorful reality after seven centuries of oblivion.”

So we’re to believe that this is the first recording of the work, and we have Mr. Renz, director of New York’s Ensemble for Early Music, to thank for it? I’m sure Mr. Greenberg, were he alive, would vigorously disagree.

I’m not an expert on medieval musical practice, but this performance sounds authentic at least in the way I’m accustomed to hearing medieval music. The recording makes full use of surround sound, with the performers positioned to the sides as well as the front. There’s plenty of motion, both laterally and front/back (though most of the latter is produced by changing gain, rather than moving the performers toward or away from the mic).


1 Quarte Estampie Real 11:15
2 Entry Of Belshazzar’s Court 7:10
3 Entry Of Belshazzar’s Queen 3:19
4 Entry Of Daniel 11:25
5 Exit Of Belshazzar’s Queen And Che Court 2:21
6 Interlude:Belshazzar’s Lamentele 4:09
7 Entry Of Darius’s Court 4:28
8 Presentation Of Daniel 3:21
9 Daniele Si Accusers 4:31
10 Daniele Si Thrown To The Lion 1:18
11 Visitati Of Daniel 5:47
12 Daniel’s Salvation And Prophesy 4:43
13 The Deum 6:46

New York’s Ensemble for Early Music:
Mark Bleeke – Daniel
Wilbur Pauley – King Belshazzar, Habakkuk
Patrick Mason – King Darius
Peter Becker – Queen, Angel
Johnson Flucker – astrologer
Douglas Shambo – lawyer
Daniel Johnson, David Negron, Frank Nemhauser, Kurt Richards, Douglas Stevens – courtier
Nicholas Oakes, Timothy Oakes, Sean O-Brien, David Regelin, Damian Stanley, Devin Ratray, Eliot van Buskirk – page
Grant Herreid – citole, lute, recorder, drum, cennamella
John Loose – carillon, psalterion, nakers
Tom Zajak – hornpipe, organetto, cennamella
Frederic Renz – conductor

Recorded: Santa Sabina, Rome 11/1986


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