The Bel Ayre web site www.belayre.be says that Bel Ayre literally and figuratively stands for ‘beautiful songs’, in the conviction of the fact that what speaks to the heart is what matters ultimately.
This is a CD that truly does speak to the heart. And very clearly too. Although not a native English speaker, the clear diction and pronunciation of English song texts by Lieselot De Wilde makes it a pleasure to listen as the story of each song unfolds. Even with the difficult words of the opening song Fain would I cage that note – a phrase that is as foreign to modern English speakers as non English speakers, they are clear as well as beautifully sung.
The solemn and more dramatic From Rosy Bowers is followed by the mournful In darkness let me dwell which is sensitively accompanied by Pieter Theuns on his Paul Thomson arche lute. This lute has a pure delicacy of sound that was the perfect companion to the voice. The fourth piece on the Cd is The Blessed Virgin’s Expostulation by Henry Purcell. Lieselot De Wilde sings this with drama and pathos and the cries to Gabriel are truly a mother’s heart wrenching plea for divine help.
If there was a piece on this CD that could be sent out into the world in the hope of encouraging non early music enthusiasts to explore this music it would be In a Garden so Green a charming song performed here in folk-song style arrangement.
The CD concludes with Christopher Simpson’s Divisions upon a ground in Bes played so well together by Pieter Theuns and Pieter Vandeveire. The two Pieter’s obviously enjoy playing their instruments and also playing together and it would seem that they wish to convert us all to the joys of theorbo and gamba. And I think they may well succeed!
This is a very enjoyable little CD well worth a place in every music library.