Music in England came alive under the reign of Elizabeth I. Not only did
the Queen herself play music, but her love for music fostered one of the
most vibrant periods of musical creation and variety in any European country.
New genres were created or refined: the "lyra way", solo viol
music, virginal music, the song for lute and voice, and consort music
for groups of viols. While some of these forms existed before the Queen’s
reign, they developed so much under her patronage that they are now identified
with this period.
This disc contains a selection of instrumental works from the period,
by both well-known composers (Byrd, Hume, Dowland, Farnaby) and others
who have left less of a mark on musical history. Charivari Agréable
is one of Britain’s finest small early music ensembles, and the attention
they pay to the music, as well as their choice of works for this disc,
The music here ranges from the melancholy, almost Irish-sounding anonymous
tune for viol and lute Robin is to the Greenwood gone, which has
a haunting, poignant melody, to solo works by the great viol composer
Tobias Hume, to keyboard works by Gibbons and Byrd. The music is played
alternately by solo instruments, or by combinations of two or three of
the musicians: solos for lute, harpsichord, organ or viol, are followed
by ensemble pieces in a well-chosen order. What stands out in this disc
is the overwhelmingly lachrymose tone (if one may use that word)
that pervades this music. While this was a period of excitement and energy,
the music often tends to have a sad sound.
This is a wonderfully varied programme of music, played by brilliant musicians.
Both the selection of the music and its performance is moving and admirable.
This is a fine disc for those who appreciate Elizabethan music, or a superb
introduction for those interested in discovering its riches.
see also review by
Peter Grahame Woolf