> GIBBONS Royal Fantasies METCD1033 [KM]: Classical Reviews- May 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Orlando GIBBONS (1583-1625)
Royal Fantasies

Music for Viols, Volume 1

1.In Nomine a5 No. 1
2.In Nomine a5 No. 2
3.In Nomine a5 No. 3
Fantasies of three parts (London, 1621)

4.Fantazia a3 No. 1
5.Fantazia a3 No. 2
6.Fantazia a3 No. 3
7.Fantazia a3 No. 4
8.Fantazia a3 No. 5
9.Fantazia a3 No. 6
10.Fantazia a3 No. 7
11.Fantazia a3 No. 8
12.Fantazia a3 No. 9
Music with the Great Dooble Base

13.Fantazia a4 No. 1
14.Fantazia a4 No. 2
15.In Nomine a4
Music with the Great Dooble Base

16.Fantazia a3 No. 1
17.Fantazia a3 No. 2
19.Pavan De Le Roye
Music with the Great Dooble Base

20.Fantazia a3 No. 3
21.Fantazia a3 No. 4
Mark Levy (treble viol)
Joanna Levine (treble and great bass viol)
Emilia Benjamin (tenor viol)
Daniel Yeadon (tenor and bass viol)
Alison McGillivray (bass viol)
Gary Cooper (harpsichord)
Rec: September 1998, Toddington Church, Gloucestershire.
METRONOME 1033 [65.16]
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Orlando Gibbons was one of the most important composers active in England during the early 17th century. Descended from a family of musicians, he spent the last few years of his life as organist at Westminster Abbey. In 1613 he published a selection of fine keyboard music in the volume called Parthenia. In addition to his own pieces he also added some 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 as his more famous contemporaries, but he has since through his music attained the status of a "musicians musician"; one whose music far transcends that of most composers of the time.

This disc is the first of two recordings by Concordia of the complete music for viols. It contains works in three, four and five parts. This comprises a selection of fantasies in three parts, as well as several In Nomines and other works.

The viol consort is a unique ensemble. Unlike the string quartet, which honours the unique character of each instrument within an overall sound, the viol consort seeks to unify its sound, so that all the instruments sound as one voice. A good viol consort performs the music to attain this homogeneity and Concordia certainly succeeds in this.

The most interesting part of this disc is the series of nine fantasies, which, it has been suggested, "represent nine variations on a common theme (never itself stated explicitly)." With this in mind, they are performed together, for the first time, and do indeed give the listener the impression that there is a hidden link between them.

But above all, this is a recording to appreciate for its lush, rich character, and the brilliant way that Concordia manage to achieve a near-perfect overall sound. Each musician is distinguished and sensitive; together they form a wonderful musical dialogue that delights the ears and the heart.

Kirk McElhearn


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