Over the past couple of years, I’ve been working with Musical Concepts’ Todd Landor and Greg Barbero…
…to make every track recorded for Vanguard Records by legendary countertenor Alfred Deller available on CD. The project is being issued in six multi-disc volumes totaling some 35 CDs.
I was familiar with a number of Deller’s recordings during my early high school years — particularly the excellent programs of English and Italian madrigals — and they left a strong impression about the sheer emotional power of early music well before my formal musical education began.
All of Deller’s masters had been transferred from Vanguard’s original mono and two-track analog tapes by the late, great David Baker during the early 1990s, and the sound he managed to retrieve from tapes which are now half a century old was revelatory (most of the digital masters were in perfect condition and needed little in the way of additional work). Release of the recordings on CD, however, had been a piecemeal affair during the 1990s; some titles were released only in Europe by Vanguard’s Dutch affiliate and very difficult to obtain in the US.
I’m completing compilation and mastering of the last two volumes (one of Madrigals, one of Renaissance and French Baroque music), and despite what one imagine of being subjected to “countertenor overload,” the sheer musicality of Deller and his posse of early music pioneers makes these recordings a joy to revisit.