Notes and Editorial Reviews
Consort Musick of 4 Parts
Spirit of Gambo (period instruments)
MUSICA FICTA 8011 (61:44)
Listening to this CD brought back a flood of pleasant memories. In the late ’60s I was privileged to play in the Collegium Musicum at the University of Michigan, headed by Robert A. Warner, an outstanding violist and gambist as well as scholar. With Warner’s help and guidance, several of us formed a viol consort within the Collegium, and for two years we explored the great English literature for viols: Byrd,
Gibbons, Dowland, Holborne, Lawes, Locke, and Jenkins. Many record collectors will be familiar with the fantasias for viols of Purcell, but these are really the culmination of a long tradition that began in the Elizabethan era. John Jenkins (1592–1678) wrote primarily during the reign of the ill-fated Charles I; his viol music can be considered to have directly influenced Purcell, who probably wrote his music in the early 1680s, following the Restoration.
The Spirit of Gambo is a four-member viol consort based in the Netherlands. I am able to find one prior mention in
for a group by that name, but the instrumentation is entirely different, so I don’t think it’s the same group. For all intents and purposes, then, a debut recording.
The highly refined, ethereal music may be an acquired taste for some. For me, it inhabits the same lofty plane as Bach’s
Art of Fugue
or Beethoven’s late string quartets. It’s best to listen to the music in small doses, otherwise it becomes difficult to follow Jenkins’s contrapuntal arguments after a while. The performances are everything one could wish for: polished and expressive, quite hypnotically beautiful, in fact. Considering that this is the only CD currently in the catalog that brings together all of Jenkins’s four-part fantasias (plus one pavan), an absolutely essential acquisition for lovers of this musical genre.
FANFARE: Christopher Brodersen
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