Phantasm, an award-winning consort of viols, was founded in 1994 by Laurence Dreyfus. The ensemble catapulted into international prominence when its debut CD of works by Henry Purcell won a Gramophone Award for the Best Baroque Instrumental Recording of 1997. Specialising in music from the 16th to the 18th centuries, the quartet have been applauded across the globe for their moving performances, which embrace the eloquent fantasies of Byrd and Gibbons, the magical works of Lawes and Purcell, even arrangements of Bach and Mozart. Since 1997, they have released twelve further recordings which have won several awards, including a further Gramophone Award in 2004 for the music of Orlando Gibbons, and have become recognised as the most exciting viol consort active on the world scene today. Their second recording on the Linn label - named Gramophone's Label of the Year in 2010 - was devoted the consort works of the 17th-century composer John Ward and was Editor's Choice in BBC Music Magazine as well as a finalist for the 2010 Gramophone Early Music Award (Linn CKD 339). 2012 sees the release of 'Consorts to the Organ' exploring the topsy-turvy music of William Lawes.
The consort has performed in festivals and on concert series throughout the world, in cities such as Paris, Prague, Tokyo, and Washington DC. Recent engagements have included the Edinburgh Festival, the Barcelona Early Music Festival, the Bergen International Festival, the Lufthansa Early Music Festival in London, Mazovia Baroque in Warsaw, the Stockholm Early Music Festival, the Vantaa Festival, and concerts at the Brussels Palais des Beaux Arts and in Ghent's De Bijloke concert hall.
Phantasm's international membership (from Britain, Finland and the USA) has been based at the University of Oxford since 2005 when they were appointed Consort-in-Residence. In autumn 2010, they took up a new association as Consort-in-Residence at Magdalen College (Oxford), where they perform, develop viol consort playing among the students, and collaborate with Magdalen College Choir.
Laurence Dreyfus, treble viol and director, was born in Boston, Massachusetts (USA). After cello studies with Leonard Rose at the Juilliard School in New York, he turned to the viol, studying with Wieland Kuijken at the Royal Conservatoire at Brussels, which awarded him its Diplome supérieur with highest distinction. As a bass viol player, he has recorded CDs of Bach's viola da gamba sonatas, Marais's Pièces de violes and Rameau's Pièces de clavecin en concert (all on Simax), and collaborated with Sylvia McNair in a Grammy-winning album of Purcell songs (on Philips). As a musicologist, he has published Bach's Continuo Group and Bach and the Patterns of Invention (Harvard, 1987 and 1996); the latter won the Kinkeldey Award from the American Musicological Society for the best book of the year. Dreyfus taught at Yale, the University of Chicago, Stanford and the Royal Academy of Music before becoming Thurston Dart Professor in 1995 at King's College London. In 2002 he was elected a Fellow of the British Academy, and in 2005 took up a University Lectureship at the University of Oxford in conjunction with a Tutorial Fellowship in Magdalen College. He received the title of Professor at Oxford in 2006. His latest book, Wagner and the Erotic Impulse, was published by Harvard University Press in October 2010.
Emilia Benjamin, tenor viol, studied viola da gamba with Sarah
Cunningham and Baroque violin with Micaela Comberti at the Guildhall
School of Music and Drama. She spent a year at the Brussels
Conservatoire with Wieland Kuijken and is a core member of Sonnerie,
playing viol, violin and viola. She is a member of the viol consort
Concordia, with whom she has recorded extensively, and also plays with
The Early Opera Company.
Wendy Gillespie, treble and tenor viols, was born in New York and, after attending Wellesley College and the Amsterdam Conservatoire began her performing career with the New York Pro Musica Antiqua. Since then she has played all over the world with leading ensembles including Les Filles de Sainte-Colombe, the Ensemble for Early Music, Ensemble Sequentia, the Waverly Consort and the English Concert. She has participated in over 80 recordings for Virgin Classics, Decca, Nonesuch, Harmonia Mundi, among others. Whilst her specialty lies in consort music, Gillespie has participated in many performances of both Medieval and contemporary music. Gillespie was a founding member of the viol consort Fretwork, and appeared with them worldwide, having won both a Grand Prix du Disque and a Gramophone Award. President of the Viola da Gamba Society of America, she is also Professor at Indiana University, teaching in the Early Music Institute.
Jonathan Manson, tenor viol, was born in Edinburgh and received his formative training at the International Cello Centre in Scotland under the direction of Jane Cowan, later going on to study with Steven Doane at the Eastman School of Music in New York. While in America, he became involved with the performance of early music and from there went to The Hague to study viola da gamba with Wieland Kuijken. On both cello and viola da gamba, Jonathan regularly plays and records with many leading early music ensembles. Recent chamber music recordings include a disc of Rameau's Pièces de clavecin en concert with Rachel Podger and Trevor Pinnock and the Bach gamba sonatas, also with Pinnock. From 1999 until 2009 he was principal cellist of the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, with whom he recorded the complete cantatas of JS Bach. Jonathan makes his home near London, where in 2003 he was appointed a professor at the Royal Academy of Music. His recordings of Bach and Rameau have been acclaimed widely, as has his Purcell recording for Linn Records with the group Retrospect Trio (Linn CKD 332). He has teamed up with the flautist Emmanuel Pahud to give Bach recitals throughout Europe, the USA and the Far East.
Markku Luolajan-Mikkola, bass viol, studied cello with Arto Noras at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, which awarded him its diploma in 1983. An interest in Baroque music led him to a summer course in Norway with Laurence Dreyfus and later to Holland where he studied with Wieland Kuijken at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague and received postgraduate diplomas in viola da gamba and Baroque cello. He is active as a chamber musician and has given many solo recitals throughout Scandinavia as well as in the Netherlands, Italy, Russia, Estonia, and Poland. His recording of Marais' Suite d'un goût d'Etranger on ALBA records won a national award for excellence in his native Finland, and other solo CDs have likewise garnered critical acclaim, including discs of virtuoso viol music by Forqueray, Couperin, Marais, and JS Bach's gamba sonatas, the latter two issued by BIS. His special interest is in contemporary music composed for the bass viol as well as in designing and commissioning modern reproductions of viols built to his specifications.
Mikko Perkola, tenor and bass viols, studied viola and viola da gamba at the Sibelius-Academy and the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague, working under such teachers as Arvo Haasma, Markku Luolajan-Mikkola and Wieland Kuijken. His main interest lies in early music and as a viol player he has toured throughout Europe with Retrover, Battalia and the Spirit of Gambo as well as with the Helsinki Baroque Orchestra and the Norwegian Baroque Orchestra. Perkola is also active in the performance of contemporary music and has premiered several works involving the viola da gamba and viola. His recording of Bach's viola da gamba sonatas on Naxos was released in 2007.
For further information -
Postal address: Magdalen College, Oxford, OX1 4AU
Email: administrator @ phantasm . org . uk
Early Music America
'effortless yet engaged approach'more >>Gramophone
'First-rate Linn Recording.'more >>Klassik.com
'This recording is one of the absolute highlights of this year'more >>Listen
'This is a luxuriant discovery.'more >>American Record Guide
'The performances here are excellent and the recorded sound rich and warm.'more >>International Record Review
'the ideal ensemble for music so rich in dissonance, unwieldy counterpoint and innovative use of homophonic techniques.'more >>Ensemble
'a treat'more >>The Oxonian Review
'...one slips away into a phantasmal and lawless world'more >>The Arts Desk
'... consistently astonishing'more >>Musicweb International
'Marvels and masterpieces...'more >>Baker and Taylor CD hotlist
'No early music collection should be without this recording'.more >>cdhotlist.com
'The group that seems to be taking over as the world's preeminent viol consort.'more >>Viola da Gamba Society of America
'a strong and fascinating approach'more >>Pizzicato
'L'interprétation de Phantasm est très sensible et merveilleusement transparent au niveau de l'ensemble des violes.'more >>BBC Music Magazine
Chamber Music Choice: 'The consort sound is luminescent...'more >>Choir & Organ
'This is music that reveals more and more levels of sophisticated invention with repeated playing.'more >>BBC Radio 3 'CD Review'
'Their playing is revelatory. The recording properly intimate, warm and truthful, and it’s from Linn Records.'more >>Audio Video Club of Atlanta
'played to perfection'more >>Buffalo News
'Phantasm shine a light wonderfully on this under served talent.'more >>The Telegraph
'Phantasm...reveal[s] the composer's sonorous magic.'more >>Early Music Review
'An absolute joy of a disc.'more >>Klassiek
'Highly recommended for lovers of music for the viola da gamba!'more >>Early Music Review
'Great music, stunningly played...'more >>Musical Toronto
'Even so, most of this music is gorgeous, clear in its emotional content, amply conveyed in the beauty that emanates from this lucky pairing of composer and interpreters.'more >>Musicweb International
'If anything, the new Phantasm recording is even better than anything they have already done.'more >>InfoDad.com
'The members and guests of the ensemble Phantasm take great delight in bringing this music back to life...'more >>Words & Music
'Phantasm's disc is an excellent shot.'more >>Audiophile Audition
'Beautifully done'more >>The Consort
'...their performances are models of precision and clarity...'The Observer
'This internationally acclaimed viol ensemble, with organist Daniel Hyde, bring all to shadowy life, the immediacy and intimacy captured expertly by the Linn engineers. Give this music your full attention - and be astonished.'more >>AllMusic.com
'strongly recommended'more >>The Sunday Times
'These two beautifully performed sets of fantasies...are full of suave angularities and delicious dissonances, captivating for liveliness and melancholy alike.'more >>BBC Radio 3 'CD Review'
‘...William Lawes whose harmonic baring is beautifully laid bare in these bold and theatrical performances from Phantasm with the plaintively seductive sound of Laurence Dreyfus's treble viol on top of the texture; Daniel Hyde's chamber organ doubling and underpinning that strangely shifting sound world.'more >>Irish Times
'Phantasm's sympathetic performances should win new friends for this sometimes almost bewildering music.'more >>Fanfare
"Phantasm captures all the dimensions of this music...Highly recommended."more >>American Record Guide
'Beautiful sound.'more >>Fanfare
'...this disc is highly recommended...'more >>Australian Viola da Gamba Society Newsletter
'The ensemble is faultless...'more >>allmusic.com
'...each viol seems to purr and to die away in a rainbow of colors.'more >>pizzicatomore >>BBC Music Magazine
Disc of the Month: 'Ensemble and intonation are flawless...'more >>International Record Review
'...Phantasm presents performances which are full of character, commitment and complete confidence.'more >>Audio Video Club of Atlanta
'One of my favorite items on the program is the second Fantasia...'more >>Turok Choice
The music is lovely'.more >>Gramophone
'It's another one of those delicious Linn recordings that ensures the label's output is always worth exploring...'more >>Gramophone
Editor's Choice: "...the playing is quite simply divine"more >>Gramophone
Editor's Choice: ..."it's a winner. Pure enjoyment."more >>Musical Pointers
'A marvellous disc...'more >>The Arts Desk
"You're continually surprised by the potency of Byrd's musical imagination...Blissful."more >>Diapason
Diapason d'Or: "...une réussite exceptionnelle"more >>Diapason
Diapason d'Or: "...an exceptional success"more >>Audiophile Audition
'Their sound is soft and luxuriant [and] beautifully captured...'more >>MusicWeb International
Recording of the Month: 'The performances here are excellent, and the recording as good as possible for a viol consort.'more >>BBC Radio 3 CD Review
'...real rhythmic vitality, warmth, full-blooded sonority and urgently communicative musicianship.'more >>MusicWeb International
"The new Linn recording...is very welcome."more >>Independent on Sunday
"Phantasm's new recording is intoxicating...faultless, the sound sweet but never cloying."more >>Hi-Fi Critic
"There is much beauty here..."more >>Scherzo
'Excepcionial' Award: "...este sensacional registro que reivindica sobradamente a un compositor un tanto oscurecido."more >>Melomano
"...del grupo británico posee la profuse capacidad de producer un sonido armonioso y apto enteramente para encontrar grandes dotes de musicalidad."more >>muszeroldal.hu
"Ezen a szép lemezen a mintegy négyszáz éve..."more >>Classical.Net
"This is a gem...Very warmly recommended."more >>Audiophile Audition
"...this album is pretty much self-recommending."more >>Opus Musica
"La interpretación es modélica..."more >>Fanfare
"Chalk up another success for Phantasm...They do a real service for Ward's consort music..."more >>Classic FM Magazine
"Phantasm plays with a delicate balance."more >>Gramophone
"The results on this disc are stunning..."more >>International Record Review
"...a sheer delight..."more >>SoundStage.com
"The overall sound is intimate, and it effectively transports the listener back to another age."more >>BBC Music Magazine
BBC Music Choice: "Phantasm's playing is impeccable..."more >>The Scotsman
"...luxuriant, pure-grained performances..."more >>BBC Radio 3 CD Review
Playing of real eloquencemore >>The Observer
"warmly resonant playing..."more >>