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Early Music

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John WARD (ca.1589-1638)
Upon a Bank with Roses - Consort Music

Upon a bank with roses a 5 [2:32]
Fantasia No. 1 a 4 [2:55]
In nominee No. 1 a 6 [3:27]
Fantasia No. 7 a 4 [2:18]
Leggiardra Sei a 5 [4:01]
Fantasia No. 7 in c a 4 [3:53]
Aire 1 in A a 2 & B.c. [1:37]
Aire 2 in A a 2 & B.c. [1:11]
Fantasia No. 4 in G a 6 [3:53]
In nominee No. 2 a 6 [3:19]
O say, dear life a 3 [1:40]
Fly not so fast a 3 [1:59]
Fantasia No. 1 in a a 5 [3:22]
Fantasia No. 5 in a a 4 [3:00]
Fantasia No. 6 in C a 4 [2:43]
Aire 6 in D a 2 & B.c. [1:45]
Aire a 5 in D a 2 & B.c. [1:38]
Fantasia No. 6 in A a 5 [3:10]
Non fu senze a 5 [2:52]
In nominee a 5 [3:15]
Cor mio, deh non languire a 5 [3:04]
Sweet Philomel a 5 [2:32]
In nominee No. 5 a 4 [3:49]
Fantasia No. 5 in g a 6 [2:44]
Fantasia No. 6 in c a 6 [4:11]
The Rose Consort of Viols
John Bryan, Alison Crum, Sarah Groser, Ray Marks, Susanna Pell, Peter Wendland, viols. John Bryan, organ
Rec: Ford Abbey, April 7-10 1998. DDD
CPO 999 928-2 [71:38]


There is no indication that John Ward was a professional musician, rather it is more likely that he was employed as a secretary. He was however, an adept composer who left behind a number of compositions that he deemed suitable for either viols or voices.

The Rose Consort have given us a beautifully played assortment of Mr. Ward’s music for viols. Closely modeled on the Italian madrigal, which was all the rage at the time of these compositions, these works are obviously based on poetic models. If the listener is at all familiar with the madrigal as a genre, he will immediately recognize the text-painting techniques and rather heightened emotions typical of the madrigal, only translated into an instrumental form.

The string consort music of the late sixteenth/early seventeenth century is, to these ears, some of the sweetest and most soothing music ever penned. There is, however, the slight problem that the interchangeability of voices and instruments caused; without a text, the music does begin to have a lulling sameness about it. Whether or not this is a detriment to enjoyment I happily leave for the listener to decide. I personally adore this body of repertoire, and find that it has uses both academic and therapeutic.

As for this performance, there is not a thing to criticize. The Rose Consort is a fine ensemble that plays spot in tune and with a loving sense of the rise and fall of a musical line. I found that the four works that include organ continuo to be of special merit, but there are certainly no losers here at all.

The production values of this disc are up to cpo’s customary impeccable standard, with thorough program notes, beautiful packaging and superior sound quality. For more than an hour of pleasant musical delights, this is a winner on all counts. Recommended highly.

Kevin Sutton



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