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Farnaby: Complete Fantasias For Harpsichord / Glen Wilson


Release Date: 02/21/2006 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8570025   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Giles Farnaby
Performer:  Glen Wilson
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 59 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews





Giles Farnaby (1562?1640) initially took up his father?s craft and became a member of the Joiners? Company, a woodworking guild focusing on panel construction and frames. Perhaps this was a requirement of parental support for his pursuit of a musical career; we have no way of knowing, because the records of the period seldom give us anything more than the brief official side of any story (unless you were a Paston, and wrote copiously). Suffice to say that although Farnaby followed thus far in his father?s footsteps, he subsequently matriculated from Oxford in 1592 with a musical degree. From that point onward, he appears to have divided his time between musical Read more instruction and composition, ending his life in what the register of his area refers to as ?extreme poverty.? Did he lack the kind of highborn connections and placement that gave the likes of Bull, Gibbons, Byrd, and Tallis financial security? Regardless, there remain sufficient handwritten and published copies of his work to attest to contemporary recognition of his talents.


These days, that recognition rests largely on a single handwritten manuscript known as the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book. Exactly whom it was written by and gathered for remains a mystery. The latest theory places its origin in the hands of a scriptorium , or scribes? workshop. (This would probably account for the variety of handwritings involved in its transcriptions, all using the same rare, Swiss paper of finest quality.) With its roughly 300 works, the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book is a treasure trove of excellent English keyboard music from the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras; and it houses 52 of Farnaby?s 53 known harpsichord pieces. They are generally of high quality, revealing vivacity, technical competence, and an original turn of mind. Others of his musical generation furnished greater emotional depth or subtlety of learning, but Farnaby was the freshest talent in the keyboard composition school that flourished so briefly yet brightly in Good Queen Bess?s time.


Glen Wilson has gathered an attractive collection from this group of pieces. ?Complete Fantasias for Harpsichord? really doesn?t begin to cover the contents, for the disc is fleshed out with arrangements of part-songs and canzonets, plus a set of moving variations on the wistful tune, ?Loth to Depart.? At less than an hour?s length, I only wish Wilson had given us yet more Farnaby; perhaps some of the simple but exquisite pieces, such as His Conceit and His Toye or the set of remarkably expressive virtuosic variations entitled Wooddy-Cock ; or possibly the delightful Rosasolis , another group of ingenious variations on a folk-based ground whose sheer high spirits are impossible to resist.


Throughout, Wilson is attentive to ornamentation and takes a broad approach to allowable tempos. He isn?t above drawing back slightly to allow an extra voice or passing harmony to register, but never loses track of rhythm and pace. Very occasionally, he seems overly sober, as in the early pages of the Fantasia MB 12 (numbers refer to the Musica Britannica edition), but this same approach brings out the majesty of Farnaby?s beautiful canzonet, ?Witness, ye heavens.? Works such as another canzonet, ?Ay me, poor heart,? and the Fantasia MB 9, were gracefully phrased without feeling rushed; and the faster, elaborate final sections of many of the fantasias never tested the edges of Wilson?s formidable technique.


I do, however, question the engineering on this release. The instrument, a conservative modern one based on a Ruckers transposing double, sounds as though the microphone were moved back to avoid overloading. The results are slightly distant, with a corresponding loss of richness, and a bit too much reverberance for my tastes in this intimate music.


That said, Farnaby is truly welcome in a very sparse catalog, and Wilson?s performances are attractive. Definitely recommended.


FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
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Works on This Recording

1. Fantasia, MB 6 by Giles Farnaby
Performer:  Glen Wilson (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Date of Recording: 10/2005 
Venue:  Schüttbau, Hofheim-Rügheim, Lower Franco 
Length: 3 Minutes 36 Secs. 
2. Fantasia, MB 8 by Giles Farnaby
Performer:  Glen Wilson (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1609; England 
Date of Recording: 10/2005 
Venue:  Schüttbau, Hofheim-Rügheim, Lower Franco 
Length: 7 Minutes 28 Secs. 
3. Fantasia for Keyboard, MB 5 by Giles Farnaby
Performer:  Glen Wilson (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Date of Recording: 10/2005 
Venue:  Schüttbau, Hofheim-Rügheim, Lower Franco 
Length: 5 Minutes 20 Secs. 
4. Fantasia, MB 7 by Giles Farnaby
Performer:  Glen Wilson (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Date of Recording: 10/2005 
Venue:  Schüttbau, Hofheim-Rügheim, Lower Franco 
Length: 3 Minutes 55 Secs. 
5. Fantasia, MB 4 by Giles Farnaby
Performer:  Glen Wilson (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1609; England 
Date of Recording: 10/2005 
Venue:  Schüttbau, Hofheim-Rügheim, Lower Franco 
Length: 4 Minutes 30 Secs. 
6. Fantasia, MB 12 by Giles Farnaby
Performer:  Glen Wilson (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Date of Recording: 10/2005 
Venue:  Schüttbau, Hofheim-Rügheim, Lower Franco 
Length: 4 Minutes 31 Secs. 
7. Construe my meaning by Giles Farnaby
Performer:  Glen Wilson (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1598; England 
Date of Recording: 10/2005 
Venue:  Schüttbau, Hofheim-Rügheim, Lower Franco 
Length: 3 Minutes 30 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Glen Wilson. 
8. Fantasia, MB 13 by Giles Farnaby
Performer:  Glen Wilson (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1609; England 
Date of Recording: 10/2005 
Venue:  Schüttbau, Hofheim-Rügheim, Lower Franco 
Length: 3 Minutes 12 Secs. 
9. Part-song arrangement, MB 3 by Giles Farnaby
Performer:  Glen Wilson (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1609; England 
Date of Recording: 10/2005 
Venue:  Schüttbau, Hofheim-Rügheim, Lower Franco 
Length: 4 Minutes 14 Secs. 
10. Fantasia, MB 10 by Giles Farnaby
Performer:  Glen Wilson (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Date of Recording: 10/2005 
Venue:  Schüttbau, Hofheim-Rügheim, Lower Franco 
Length: 4 Minutes 8 Secs. 
11. Ay me, poor heart, MB 11 by Giles Farnaby
Performer:  Glen Wilson (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1609; England 
Date of Recording: 10/2005 
Venue:  Schüttbau, Hofheim-Rügheim, Lower Franco 
Length: 2 Minutes 39 Secs. 
12. Witness, ye heavens by Giles Farnaby
Performer:  Glen Wilson (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1598; England 
Date of Recording: 10/2005 
Venue:  Schüttbau, Hofheim-Rügheim, Lower Franco 
Length: 2 Minutes 43 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Glen Wilson. 
13. Fantasia, MB 9 by Giles Farnaby
Performer:  Glen Wilson (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1609; England 
Date of Recording: 10/2005 
Venue:  Schüttbau, Hofheim-Rügheim, Lower Franco 
Length: 4 Minutes 2 Secs. 
14. Loath to Depart by Giles Farnaby
Performer:  Glen Wilson (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Date of Recording: 10/2005 
Venue:  Schüttbau, Hofheim-Rügheim, Lower Franco 
Length: 4 Minutes 41 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Fantasia (6 / 320)
Fantasia (8 / 323)
Fantasia (5 / 82)
Part-song (7 / 333) (arr. G. Farnaby): Part-song (arr. G. Farnaby - 7 / 333)
Fantasia (4 / 489)
Fantasia (12 / 343)
Construe my meaning (arr. G. Wilson)
Fantasia (13 / 347)
Part-song (3 / 340) (arr. G. Farnaby): Part-song (arr. G. Farnaby - 3 / 340)
Fantasia (10 / 313)
Ay me, poor heart (arr. G. Wilson)
Witness, ye heavens (arr. G. Wilson)
Fantasia (9 / 270)
Loth to Depart

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