> GIBBONS Go from my window [KM]: Classical Reviews- May 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Orlando GIBBONS (1583-1625)
Go from my Window

Music for Viols, Volume 2

1.Fantasia a6 No. 5
2.Fantasia a6 No. 6
3.Go from my Window
4.What is our life? (w/ voice)
5.Fantasia a2 No. 5
6.Fantasia a2 No. 6
7.Pavan a6
8.Galliard a6
9.Fantasia a6 No. 3
10.Fantasia a6 No. 4
11.Fantasia a2 No. 1
12.Fantasia a2 No. 2
13.Ah, dear heart (w/ voice)
14.The silver swan (w/ voice)
15.Fantasia a6 No. 1
16.Fantasia a6 No. 2
17.Fantasia a2 No. 3
18.Fantasia a2 No. 4
Mark Levy (treble viol)
Reiko Ichise (treble viol)
Joanna Levine (tenor viol)
Emilia Benjamin (tenor viol)
Daniel Yeadon (bass viol)
Alison McGillivray (bass viol)
Gary Cooper (organ)
Rachel Elliott (soprano)
Rec: February and April 2000, St. Andrew’s Church, Toddington, Gloucestershire.
METRONOME 1039 [59.14]
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Orlando Gibbons was one of the most important composers operating in England in the early 17th century. Descended from a family of musicians, he spent the last few years of his life as organist at Westminster Abbey. He published a selection of fine keyboard music in Parthenia in 1613, also including in the same volume works by those other emblematic figures of the time, William Byrd and John Bull. In his brief life, he was not able to compose as much music is his more famous contemporaries, but has since been considered a "musicians’ musician", one the substance of whose music goes far beyond that of most composers.

This disc is the second of two recordings by Concordia of the complete music for viols and contains music in two and six parts. Unlike the first volume, it also contains several songs.

The viol consort is a unique ensemble. Unlike the string quartet, which privileges the unique qualities of each instrument within an overall sound, the viol consort seeks to unify its sound so all the instruments sound as one voice. A successful viol consort performs the music to attain this homogeneity, and Concordia certainly succeeds. But here, as opposed to the first volume of this set, Concordia presents music at two extremes: viol music in two parts is a dialogue with two instruments acting as equals; that in six parts offers a texture that is unique in its richness and depth. The contrast is quite interesting, and the choice of presenting the music in this manner is judicious.

The opening fantasies in six parts show how powerful and moving this sound can be, and show the unique resonance of six viols playing together. The few consort songs, with soprano Rachel Elliott, give a totally different sound, closer to that of John Dowland, whose songs are well known. But Gibbon’s plaintive tone exceeds even Dowland’s melancholic works, and Elliott gives a fine performance of these pieces.

What stands out most on this disc, though, is the six two part fantasies, so rich in counterpoint and musical novelty, so transparent. These miniature masterpieces are performed here with great subtlety.

This fine disc is the perfect complement to Concordia’s first part of their survey of Gibbon’s viol music. The music, the sound, and the musicians all work together to make this a beautiful recording.

Kirk McElhearn

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