MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2024
60,000 reviews
... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing


Support us financially by purchasing this from

John JENKINS (1592-1678)
Fantasias, Pavans and Airs in four parts
Track listing below review
The Spirit of Gambo
rec. June 2012, Doopsgezinde Kerk, Haarlem
MUSICA FICTA MF8019 [60:27]

This isn’t the first time that this ensemble has recorded the music of John Jenkins. Their 2011 disc devoted to his consort music in four parts was released on MF8011, and now they return to him, this strange-sounding band whose name sounds like a Victorian illusionist or a tribute act. The ensemble is five strong and flexible, and two of the players double, thus they play two treble viols, two tenor, and two bass, in varying combinations, with organ. They sound supremely attuned to Jenkins’s aesthetic, which is predicated on flowing expressive lines and an elegance of counterpoint. It's quite unlike the music of his more abrasive and avant-garde near-contemporary William Lawes.

Half the programme consists of a well-programmed sequence of Fantasias whilst there are also three Airs and three Pavans, and a single Galliard. Two things are especially noticeable about the performances. Firstly, the tempi are entirely natural-sounding, flowing but never rushed, and ensuring that articulation is precise but never fussy. Second, one notices the rich consort sound which is, to a large extent, due to the timbre of their instruments, made by Gesina Liedmeier. They and the bows are based on appropriately seventeenth-century models. I should also add that the excellence of the instrumentalists is, obviously, a significant factor too. Jenkins’s Fantasias are gracious and refined, but also show elements of prevailing melancholy – such as in Fantasia XXVI – and a judicious employment of counterpoint. The settings in which the organ is employed – and there are six altogether in a recital of fourteen pieces – are the most interior. The Pavan XXVII is a particularly good example of Jenkins’s discreetly plangent expression, never as doleful as Dowland, never as experimental as Lawes, but charting his own balanced course. Programmatically it makes sense to follow it with the more ebullient side of his musical character, richly reflected in the Fantasia XV, in C.

You can gauge how sympathetic you will be to the sound-world produced by The Spirit of Gambo in a piece such as Pavan IX, where the expressive lower two bass viol voices are contrasted with the more limpid treble viol. This lends distinction throughout, not least to the noble gravity and timeless quality enshrined in the Pavan in D, one of the most magnificent of the settings in this programme.

These first-class performances have been sensitively recorded in the Doopsgezinde Kerk, Haarlem, a frequent venue for early music. In every way this ensemble, with its odd name, is turning out outstandingly good discs.

Jonathan Woolf

Track listing
Fantasia VI [3:16]
Fantasia XXVI [3:25]
Fantasia X [5:08]
Air XIII [3:13]
Pavan XXVII [7:09]
Fantasia XV [2:50]
Air I [4:08]
Pavan IX [6:22]
Galliard XXIV [2:20]
Pavan I [5:53]
Fantasia XXX1 [3:56]
Air II [3:59]
Fantasia XV11 [3:55]