Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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- The English Exile
The harpsichord music of the Elizabethan and Tudor composer, Peter Philips

Pavana Doloroso
Galliarda Dolorosa
Pavana 1580
Cosi Moriro
Le Rossignuol 1595
Margotti Laborez 1605
Amarylli di Julio Romano 1603
Pavana Pagget
Pavan Passamezzo 1592
Galliarda Passamezzo
Fantasia 1582

Colin Booth (harpsichord)
rec 31 Aug/1 Sept 1999 Dillington House, Ilminster, Somerset SOUNDBOARD SBCD 992 [65.25]

First of all a confession from me. Music from the Elizabethan era is not my speciality; still less the sound of the harpsichord. For this reason I cannot comment on issues of authenticity or performing style.

The making of classical CDs has become something of a cottage industry. Costs have fallen and technology is no longer as forbidding. The main hurdle however (apart from raising the cash) is marketing. Perhaps the internet and the relevant newsgroups offer part of the answer. Meantime various pioneers have stacks of CDs sitting in their attics and hallways and lounges awaiting orders.

The present disc is an example of that industry. Production values are not at all amateurish. Design of the leaflet is excellent and the notes are extremely informative.

The twentieth century was littered with examples of composers who left Britain to make their fortunes elsewhere: Peter Racine Fricker in California: Iain Hamilton in New York, Peter Tahourdin and David Sydney Morgan in Australia: John Foulds in India: William Henry Bell and Albert Coates in South Africa.

What is less readily appreciated is that religious oppression drove an earlier generation out of the British Isles: John Bull and Thomas Morley to Antwerp and Peter Philips to Italy and ultimately to Antwerp (something of a magnet to musicians - especially English Catholics) where he was employed by one Paget as a feted harpsichordist and organist.

The present collection of pieces comes from Peter Tregian's personal collection - the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book dating from circa 1600. Colin Booth is as alert as can be in the slender but resilient emotions of this music. One is not accustomed to intense pathos or drama in such music but a surprising measure of these qualities does come through. There are some startlingly Mozartian moments among the mannered style of the time. This alone is sufficient to mark out this release from the common herd. Altogether a very creditable release.

This is a warm and lively recording to contrast with the often unduly distanced and analytical approach. The downside is that the instrumental lines can sometimes become blurred by each other. Personally though I would rather have warmth from an instrument that one does not readily associate with that quality.

Definitely worth exploring (as, I am sure, are the other discs from Soundboard including a collection of harpsichord pieces by William Croft). More details readily available from Colin Booth. Address below.


Rob Barnett

NOTE - the disc is available from Colin Booth at Soundboard, Mt Pleasant, Westbury sub Mendip BA5 1HU, United Kingdom



Rob Barnett

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