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Phantasm - William Lawes - Gramophone


01 February 2013
Gramophone
Edward Greenfield

It is good to welcome a second disc of the Carolingian composer William Lawers (1602 - 45) so soon after the excellend ALMA issue of the Royall Consorts (9/12). Here on the earlier disc Les Voix Humaines used Barique violins, Phantasm, in this sequence of ‘Sets', opt for a consort of viols. The title ‘Consorts to the Organ' is slightly misleading in that the organ (here a small portative instrument) plays only an incidental part, adding substance and colour to the ensemble.

In addition, this second group of consorts written between 163 and 1639, tend to be rather more adventurous than the Royall Consorts, notably in the one four-movement work, the Set in C minor, in which Lawes opts for two movements labelled Aire instead of one. Otherwise this work too consists of a Fantasia (this time unusually elaborate) and a lively Paven (the spelling at the time for pavan). 

As on previous discs, Phantasm, under the direction of Laurence Dreyfus (tenor boil) with Daniel Hyde on the organ, give immaculate performances, not least in that elaborate Fantasia in C minor, described in the notes as the ‘craggiest' movement but in fact exhilarating in the elaboration of its counterpoint. In addition, the note rightly describes the Paven of that same Set as Lawe's masterpiece. First-rate Linn Recording.


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