Rook, Eleven, Rook Early Music LLC / Rook (888295187572), 2015. http://www.rookearlymusic.com/eleven.html
Jakob Hansen, violin; Paul Von Hoff, trombone and slide trumpet; Jeremy David Ward, bass violin; Mark Shuldiner, harpsichord; Bill Baxstresser, cornetto; Violin by Sebastian Maria; Tenor Trombone by Egger after Sebastian Hainlein, Nuremburg, 1632; Alto Trombone by Egger after Heironimus Starck, Nuremburg, 1670 (used for Bassano); Slide Trumpet by Geert Jan van der Heide after Hans Merling painting, 15th c (used for Willaert); Mouthpieces by Geert van der Heide.
Tuning at ¼ comma meantone, A=440, Recorded July 15-18, Alice Millar Chapel, Northwestern University
Rather scant liner notes (which can be downloaded by following the above link) explain the purpose of Rook: “attempting to understand what type of musical experience was valued by musicians 400 years ago can work as a catalyst for moving beyond prevailing and prescribed ideas of interpretation and ensemble….The trombone and bass violin adapted the facility and speed of the violin. String instruments adapted the variety of articulation and dynamic shaping available to the brass.” This listener is more an accomplished performer on cornetto and natural trumpet than a knowledgeable scholar of the issues outlined above and to other particulars of string instruments mentioned in the notes. Perhaps others will be able to appreciate these above-stated goals of Rook. What is apparent, though, is the virtuosic playing of all players, with special emphasis on technical speed. This is in part due to the preponderance of very animated music by such composers as Dario Castello and Bartelomeo de Slema y Salverde. It may seem that the program is weighted more heavily in extroverted affect, but I invite the listener to Ingiustissimo amor by Constano Festa (c 1485-1545) as an example of a truly refined and heartfelt performance. Cornettist Bill Baxstresser is listed as a special guest. No information is provided regarding his instrument or mouthpiece. He offers sensitive playing on an interesting Pavan by Samuel Scheidt. There is no denying the technical skill of the members of Rook. Their program offers many little-performed works. I invite our members to hear this recording.