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Alfonso FERRABOSCO I (1543-1588)
Alfonso FERRABOSCO II (1578-1628)

Consort Music
Dovehouse Pavan a 5 (II) [4.44]
Almain a 5 (11) [2.17]
Fuerunt mihi lachrime a 4 (I) [2.46]
Solo e pensoso a 5 (I) [3.59]
Fantasy No 6 a 6 (II) [2.29]
Fantasy No 3 a 6 (II) [3.26]
In Nomine No 1 (I) [2.55]
In Nomine No 2 (I) [2.20]
Fantasy No 14 a 4 (II) [3.15]
Fantasy No 16 a 4 (II) [2.46]
Ut re mi a 3 (1) [1.38]
Di sei bassi a 6 (I) [3.20]
Hexachord Fantasy No 1 a 5 (II) [3.41]
Hexachord Fantasy No 2 a 5 (II) [3.55]
Pavan in C a 5 (II) [4.07]
Three almains in C a 5 (II) [3.16]
Fantasy No 8 a 6 (II ) for three trebles [2.26]
In Nomine No 2 a 6 (II) [3.41]
Fantasia a 4 (I) [3.57]
Susanne un jour a 5 (I) [3.25]
Fantasy No 2 a 6 (II) [3.52]
In Nomine through all parts a 6 (II) [6.02]
Rose Consort of Viols: John Bryan, Alison Crum, Sarah Groser, Roy Marks, Susanna Pell, Peter Wendland.
Recorded at Forde Abbey, Somerset, UK, 2 June 1997
Notes in Deutsch, English, Français. Colour photo of 5 of the 6 artists.
CPO 999 859-2 [75.36]

Comparison recording:
Ferrabosco, viol fantasias, Fretwork. Musical Heritage Society 11231K [North America only, licensed from Saydisc]

Father and son pairs in music are not all that rare; one naturally thinks of J. S. Bach and sons, and the Strausses and Couperins. The Ferraboscos wrote music so similar that it was not proven until recently that there were actually two of them and some of the pieces are still uncertainly ascribed between them. In the service of Queen Elizabeth I from 1562, Alfonso Ferrabosco I became the single most influential Italian musician at court. When he left England in 1578, his son Alfonso Ferrabosco (II) was, some say, held hostage upon his return. At any rate, he stepped into his father’s shoes, eventually becoming royal music tutor to Prince Charles I, accounting for the continuous presence of a musician by that name at court.

Viol consort music can sound like a hushed conversation in a sinusitis clinic, or funeral music played on an accordion. But here we have a virtuoso group who can produce the rich variety of tone that is possible. It comprises players who know their instruments and the music and who produce a beautiful consonant blending of sound. Most of this music owes a great debt to organ composition style and the players tend to find a rich chord and let it resonate.

The performances of some of this same music by the viol consort Fretwork are considerably more articulated, brighter in mood, faster in tempo, and altogether more entertaining. I have listened to this cpo disk a number of times and regret to find that, while it is suitable for meditation or background music, it is so even in tone that it is difficult to keep one’s attention on it, or tell one piece from another. The Fantasias heard here do not have the intellectual integrity of those by William Byrd and others, however the music is not so much at fault as the subtlety of the performers’ phrasing and even tone.

Paul Shoemaker

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