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John Ward - Phantasm - SoundStage.com


05 October 2009
SoundStage.com
Rad Bennett
4 Stars

Linn has been recording classical music for some time now and has several house artists. The label is also good at discovering new and worthy soloists and ensembles. One of the latter is Phantasm, an award-winning consort of viols. The viol was a precursor to the violin, and consorts were immensely popular back in the 16th and early 17th centuries. The instrument was available in treble, tenor, and bass models, so a quartet of players could cover a large range, just like the more modern string quartet. Phantasm's players are Laurence Dreyfus and Wendy Gillespie (treble viol), Jonathan Manson (tenor viol), and Markku Luoajan-Mikkola (bass viol). Frequent guests of the consort are Emilia Benjamin (tenor viol) and Mikko Perkola (bass viol). On their most recent recording for Linn, they play the entire consort music compositions of John Ward (1571-1638). John Ward: Consort Music for Five and Six Viols is available as a hybrid SACD (Linn CXD 339) or as a download (FLAC Studio Master 24/192 or 24/96, FLAC or WMA CD quality, or MP3). Even if you prefer to buy a disc, it pays to go to the download site, where you can sample all of the album's tracks before purchasing it. I found this recording to have rich and resonant sound with plenty of liveliness and detail. The surround use is minimal; it merely enhances the front channels by providing an aural definition of the recording space. The overall sound is intimate, and it effectively transports the listener back to another age.
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John Ward: Consort music for five and six violsJohn Ward: Consort music for five and six viols