The recorder was an important medieval instrument, and it played a prominent part, too, in Renaissance music, both in broken consort (with other instruments such as the lute, viola da gamba, etc.) and in closed consort (with different members of its own family). After about 1600 the recorder family declined and was survived mainly by one member-the alto. As a leading Baroque solo and ensemble instrument the alto recorder's repertoire includes works by Purcell, Alessandro Scarlatti, Telemann, Handel, Vivaldi and Bach. With the shift from the music room to the concert hall that began about 1750, the orchestra grew larger and the instruments louder; the gentle recorder disappeared from the scene as did its contemporaries, the harpsichord and viola da gamba.

The recorder was also called SWEET PIPES, or Flauto dolce, one of the many names the recorder has borne in its long history (others are Flauto, flute douce, Flute a bec, Flauto di voce, English Flute, Common Flute, and simply Flute).

The recorder was revived in the 1920's by Arnold Dolmetsch, the English music antiquarian, who built and restored old instruments in order to play pre-1750 music as it was originally conceived. With its beautiful tone, simplicity of construction and initial ease of learning it was soon taken up enthusiastically and in great numbers by amateurs.

Please click on the name of the composer to hear the compositions.

1.  FIVE VILLANCICOS - was a secular Spanish refrain form with a vernacular text set to relatively uncomplicated music. In performing these pieces instrumentally we follow a favorite Renaissance practice-Spanish 16th Century. 5 Songs 3 by Juan del Enciňa and 2 Anon.

2. Antonio Vivaldi (c.1675-1741)  - CONCERTO IN C MAJOR Sopranino recorder

Vivaldi wrote this concerto and two others for the "flautino" ("little flute"), but historians are not sure what "flautino" meant in Vivaldi's day. Among the possibilities are sopranino recorder, piccolo, flagealet and military fife.

3. John Bull (c.1562-1628) - "IN NOMINE" RECORDER QUINTET

The "In Nornine" is a peculiarly English species of instrumental composition (over 150 exist) based on the cantus firmus (pre-existent melody) from the "In Nomine" passage of Taverner's Mass, "Gloria tibi Trinitas." Since the cantus firmus is frequently quoted in long notes, some of the form's popularity might be due to the unique opportunity it affords the novice player to participate in music of the utmost seriousness and complexity.

4. Johann Rosenmuller (c.1620-84) -SONATA A 2 in D Minor (TRIO SONATA) Soprano recorder, bassoon, continuo (harpsichord, viola da gamba).

The term "trio sonata" 'refers to a composition with two solo lines and a bass, and not necessarily to the number of instruments involved-which is usually greater. The performance is based on Dr. Hans T. David's manuscript copy of the original which specifies violin and either bassoon or viola da gamba as solo instruments. The original title is "Sonata a 2."  The performer of old enjoyed unusual freedom, and in a general way we are beginning to know how this freedom was expressed. We can never, though, be sure of the myriad details, of the elusive and ephemeral qualities of performance that defy translation into notation. They must be supplied by intuition and experience. These qualities are shared in abundance by the members of the Baroque Ensemble. As knowledgeable and sensitive chamber players, their contribution to the performances on this record is invaluable.

5. Franz Biber (1644-1704)   SONATA PRO TABULA A 10 Five recorders, strings, continuo. The pronounced Eastern European folk flavor of parts of this interesting work can be attributed to Biber's Bohemian birth. As "table" music, the sonata was designed to accompany a meal or banquet, probably at the palace of the Prince-Bishop of Olomouc who employed Biber during the years 1666-1670.

6. Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625) - FANTASIA A2 for Two alto recorders.

The late Renaissance instrumental duo seems expressly and almost diabolically designed to trip up an unwary player. The characteristically complex cross-rhythms of the genre are challenging; they add zest to the contest between composer and player. 

7. Teleman Concerto Even though Telemann is a composer for next semester, this concerto is included as an additional example of the versatility to which the recorder was used.