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Posted October 11, 2012
The intricate voices of six viols bring back to life the airs, fantasies, and dances by John Lawes from the early 17th century. These instruments, plus a portative organ, present the songs, pavans, and In Nomine compositions for appreciation by sophisticated audiences.
This music was designated for private audiences in the royal courts of England. The internationally-acclaimed musicians bring interpretation and skill to the themes, variations, and counterpoints, astounding the unsuspecting listener. The booklet written by director/performer Laurence Dreyfus guides the reader through the maze and humor of Lawes’ unconventional compositions. It details the particulars of viol construction, availability during musical periods, and the kinds of audiences who had the privilege of hearing these compositions when they were new. The tracks are described regarding the fine points of construction and style for each composition in a fun, “tongue-in-cheek” manner. Some are perky, others mellow, and the entire group well-blended.
Audiences for this CD will be those who study these period instruments, history aficionados, harmony hounds, and string students. Even though these pieces and instruments vary in detail and contrast, the sound is remarkably similar. The resulting program has a “sameness”, blending into a lovely, homogeneous, soothing event. While these are fascinating instruments, labyrinthine compositions, and exceptionally talented musicians, there may be a limited market for audiences of this genre. Even so, this recording would make a good background for a party or reception.