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Phantasm - Ward: Fantasies & Verse Anthems - Early Music Review


01 December 2014
Early Music Review
Clifford Bartlett

This is an excellent introduction to John Ward (c.1589-1638). Ian Payne has been the main editor of his works, specially the 5 and 6 voices-and-viols repertoire. He has also published the Oxford four-part Viol Fantasias (Tr.T.T.B. & organ) in Musica Britannia 83, also available with score and parts from PRB Productions; MB 83 also includes 20 pieces for Tr.Tr.A.B without organ. The CD has a sensible programme, with the six Oxford pieces and six vocal works, three liturgical, three more widely religious. The viol pieces are mostly impressively played, but they feel slightly rushed, and I worry about weakness at the D string, which doesn't balance with the rest. This isn't a problem with the vocal items, which are more substantial than the Fantasies. Only one of the Fantasies stretches into three minutes, whereas the shortest vocal piece is nearly five minutes and the two-sectioned Down, caitiff wretch runs to over ten minutes. The mixing of viols and voices is more successful than viols alone, but I would prefer the three pieces that are not verse anthems to have only soloists. This raises Ward in my estimation, and it is well worth buying.


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