This is a very beautiful disc of music from the early 15th century. Dunstable (or Dunstaple) was an enormously influential figure in the development of Renaissance music and this sample of his work gives a good idea why that was. It is extremely skilful three- and four-part writing: inventive and supremely lovely with a limpid, spare beauty which I find very affecting.
The performances here by the Hilliard Ensemble are everything one would expect from this outstanding ensemble: technically perfect with impeccable intonation, lovely fluency of line and an ideal balance of the parts. The acoustic is resonant without being overpowering and that distinctive, slightly austere Hilliard sound is absolutely perfect for this music. The overall effect is simply sublime, and balm to the soul.
I have owned and loved this disc for many years and still play it regularly and with very great pleasure. Very warmly recommended.
Unfamiliar to most, but John Dunstable is arguably the most influential English musician ever. No lengthy review to add here, but you may wish to know that this disc is now re-released as part of a bargain two disc set along with a disc of music by Dunstable's contemporary and compatriot Leonel Power: Power & Dunstable: Masses and Motets.
If you don't know the Hilliard Ensemble's work, this CD is a great place to start - Dunstable's motets are easy-listening in the best sense of the term. This ensemble must be some of the best performers around, and they don't need to rely on spurious tinkly instrumentations like some interpreters of early music.