Orlando Gibbons - The Woods So Wild - John Toll - Early Music Review

John Toll played on so many records, often with the occasional solo toccata or interlude, but this is his only solo disc, made in November 1999 and February 2000, when he was already ill. the photos show a prematurely aged face (still boyish till quite recently), a poingant memory of someone who was a leading figure in our musical life for over a quarter-century. Would that he had played solo more often. This is a delightful disc. There is a hint of the understating English continuo player* which suits the music of Gibbons so well. About half of his keyboard music is included, but everything you would expect. The choice of harpsichord or organ is not made on any clearly functional basis, but feels right. The Adligton Hall organ (c. 1693) may be a little late - one is more used to hearing it in 18th century music - but it sounds well once one gets used to the blatant consecutives, which really do sound like organum at the beginning of track 4. The touch of melancholy that imbues Gibbons' music makes a fitting valediction.

*Not an aspertion on John's playing. We were both organists at a Monteverdi Vespers a few years ago; I played with the choir and was most impressed by the imagination with which he accompanied the soloists.

04 February 2002