Phantasm - Lawes: Consorts to the Organ - Musicweb International

Linn and Phantasm already had two fine recordings to their joint credit, of music by William Byrd (CKD372 - Recording of the Month) and John Ward (CKD339 - Recording of the Month).

For Channel Classics Phantasm have already recorded Williams Lawes' four- , five- and six-part consorts; neither of these recordings is available for download and even the CD of the 4- and 5-part recording is out of stock at Channel, so the new recording is especially welcome. In any case, these are premiere recordings of the consorts with organ part.

If anything, the new Phantasm recording is even better than anything they have already done, since it presents the wonderful but neglected consort music of William Lawes whose career was cut short at Chester during the Civil War. William and Henry Lawes were major musical figures in the troubled times of the mid seventeenth century yet, while Henry's name at least has been preserved for posterity from his friendship with Milton - he composed the music for Comus and was the recipient of a sonnet in praise of his music - his brother William is less well known even by name.

This new recording should help redress the balance. The performances are excellent; though I have no benchmark recording by which to judge them, the scores are readily available online from, and the recording sets the performers in a credible sound-stage without placing them as close as is sometimes the case with consort music. Even the 24-bit download won't cost a fortune. The notes, well up to Linn's usual excellent standard, set the seal on a most recommendable release.

Musicweb International
20 July 2012