Webster’s defines cosmography as “a description of the world.” In “Cosmography of Polyphony,” the Royal Wind Music describe their world of renaissance music through their concert repertoire. This ensemble of twelve recorder players presents music from Johannes Ockeghem (early 1500s) through Johann Sebastian Bach (mid-1700s).

Playing polyphonic vocal works on instruments was standard practice in the Renaissance (as was doubling vocal parts with instruments). So Maria Martinez Ayerz’s arrangements are within the realm of early music performance practices.

The ensemble presents a nice variety of styles, too. There’s a highly chromatic madrigal by Carlo Gesualdo, as well as cheerier fare by Anthony Holborne.

The Royal Wind Music performs with an astounding precision and unity of vision. At times the ensemble sounds like an organ or calliope played by a single individual. Ayerza’s arrangements use many different types of recorders, and not every one gets played in every selection. It’s that subtle variety that I most appreciated as I listened to this recording.

A worthy musical cosmography, indeed.

Cosmography of Polyphony: A Musical Journey through Renaissance Music with 12 recorders
Music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Antoine Brumel, Hernando de Cabezón, Alfonso Ferrabosco, Carlo Gesualdo, Nicolas Gombert, Anthony Holborne, Alonso Lobo, Johannes Ockeghem, Osbert Parsley, Pierre Phalèse, Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, Adrian Willaert
The Royal Wind Music
Petri Arvo, Hester Groenleer, María Martínez Ayerza: artistic directors
Pan Classics PC 10377