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William Lawes: Consorts to the Organ

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - James Manheim
William Lawes, who was shot and killed during the English Civil War, was the intellectual of English viol music in the 17th century, and the pieces heard here will appeal most to those whose interests run to the brainy and slighly shocking: Gesualdo, Zelenka, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. "Consorts to the organ" are viol consort pieces with the accompaniment of a small organ, which here blends almost imperceptibly into the texture only to emerge into unexpected short solos. That's typical of the offbeat quality of the music, manifest most of all in its harmonic content. Lawes delights in driving the music into thickets of dissonance and then setting it on the straight and ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - James Manheim
William Lawes, who was shot and killed during the English Civil War, was the intellectual of English viol music in the 17th century, and the pieces heard here will appeal most to those whose interests run to the brainy and slighly shocking: Gesualdo, Zelenka, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. "Consorts to the organ" are viol consort pieces with the accompaniment of a small organ, which here blends almost imperceptibly into the texture only to emerge into unexpected short solos. That's typical of the offbeat quality of the music, manifest most of all in its harmonic content. Lawes delights in driving the music into thickets of dissonance and then setting it on the straight and narrow again just when you've become convinced it will run aground. The contrapuntal subjects are oddly shaped, and the overall concepts of the "sets" groups of three or four pieces and their individual movements vary wildly. You are in a world here very different from the sober, rather sad decorum that's the standard for viol music. The performances by the multinational group Phantasm are very good, with attention to the odder contrapuntal details the group in no way skates over the dissonances but a quiet dynamic range that fits well with the music's intimate qualities. It's not known exactly how this music was used, but it appears to have been played in private royal chambers for groups of people who could appreciate how strange and innovative it was, and Phantasm gets this atmosphere. They're aided by superb acoustics from the Linn label, which completely avoids the booming, churchy sound with which viol consorts are generally recorded no recording venue is specified. Strongly recommended for those who have heard some viol music and are in a position to hear the strangeness in Lawes' works.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 7/31/2012
  • Label: Linn Records
  • UPC: 691062039925
  • Catalog Number: 399
  • Sales rank: 31,398

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1–3 Consort Sett a 5 in G minor (No. 1) - William Lawes & Emilia Benjamin
  2. 4–6 Consort Sett a 5 in A minor (No. 2) - William Lawes & Emilia Benjamin
  3. 7–10 Consort Sett a 5 in C minor (No. 3) - William Lawes & Emilia Benjamin
  4. 11–13 Consort Sett a 5 in C major (No. 5) - William Lawes & Emilia Benjamin
  5. 14–16 Consort Sett a 6 in G minor (No. 6) - William Lawes & Emilia Benjamin
  6. 17–20 Consort Sett a 6 in F major (No. 8) - William Lawes & Emilia Benjamin
  7. 21–23 Consort Sett a 6 in B flat major (No. 9) - William Lawes & Emilia Benjamin
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Phantasm Primary Artist
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 11, 2012

    Sextet of viols illuminates intricacies by Lawes

    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.

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