Related Reviews
Early Music
'The instrumental ensemble is at once charming and elegant, then fiery and direct with an impressive focus that relishes each individual viol's rich tone in a rewarding body of sound that unfolds a flowing, seamless musical discourse.'
more >>
BBC Music Magazine
4 Stars
'Phantasm is simply the best viol consort around...Melodic shaping, changes of mood, and variations of styles and tempos are everywhere on display...'
more >>
Classical Ear
5 Stars
'The four viol-players of Phantasm are a fluent, resonant string quartet whose dark, treacle-rich tones blend beautifully with the Choir of Magdalen College. A captivating album.'
more >>
MusicWeb International
'As Phantasm play with such an understanding of musical direction ones attention never wavers...'
more >>
The Oxford Times
'A phantastic CD from Phantasm'
more >>
Early Music Review
'This raises Ward in my estimation, and it is well worth buying.'
more >>
'Phantasm play with their customary verve...The current Magdalen choir has a range of marvellous voices...'
more >>
Classical CD Review
'Superb. An essential disk for those interested in this repertory.'
more >>
The Observer
4 Stars
'luminous clarity'
more >>
Germany's Toccata sits down with Laurence Dreyfus
more >>

Phantasm - Ward: Fantasies & Verse Anthems - Audiophile Audition

14 December 2014
Audiophile Audition
Steven Ritter
4 Stars

Phantasm has already recorded the five and six-part fantasies of John Ward on a previous Linn issue, reviewed to fine acclaim by Lee Passarella, and I direct you there.

In this most welcome followup, we are now treated to the leaner, more concise, experimental, and melodically angular four-part works for treble, two tenors, and one bass viol. The pieces are as well-played as the first release, and Phantasm continues to demonstrate their adeptness and adaptability in exploring the core of this music.

But the fantasies are less than half the story on this disc-fully seven others have the addition of chorus to make up a unique and quite emotionally powerful form called the "verse anthem". The excellent notes rightly call this an "inspired fusion of the polyphonic liturgical anthem, the anglicized Italian madrigal style and the native viol fantasy", and I can hardly better this apt portrayal. Ward is amazingly proficient at word painting, musical foreshadowing, overlaying of textures, and a very English methodology of bringing the best of the Italian madrigal style to the Island. The works are luscious in sound, expertly wedding words to contrapuntal lines making for the best of true consort music, all packaged in one beautifully poetic and mellifluous entourage of sound that is quite unlike anything most Renaissance fans are used to hearing. In this case, hear they must, and in sound and performances like this, it's hard to beat.

Bookmark and Share

Related Links

Ward: Fantasies & Verse AnthemsWard: Fantasies & Verse Anthems