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William Lawes: The Passion Of Musicke

Lawes / Gent / Pessi / Eguez
Release Date: 01/08/2013 
Label:  Flora   Catalog #: 1206   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  AnonymousWilliam Lawes
Performer:  Philippe PierlotGiovanna PessiEduardo EgüezSophie Gent
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 1 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



W. LAWES Harp Consort Suite in g. Lyra Viol Solos in G. Harp Consort Suite in d. Lyra Viol Solos in g. Harp Consort Suite in G. Lyra Viol Solos in d. Harp Consort in G: Aire Sophie Gent (vn); Givanna Pessi (hp); Eduardo Egüez (thb); Philippe Pierlot (lyra vl, bs vl) FLORA 1206 (60:50)


This release celebrates not just the consort music of Charles I’s favorite composer, but two instruments that are curiosities in consort performance. The first was the harp as an early 17th-century substitute for the organ in Read more accompanying viol consorts. The other, the lyra viol, was fairly common in England during that period. It was a smaller, lighter bass viol, whose size and flattened bridge made it easier to play chords and the quick divisions English composers delighted in. A professional gambist of my acquaintance states that the lyra viol is more of an amateur’s instrument—if by amateur we mean an intelligent, talented 17th-century amateur of a prosperous background, who in the best tradition of Castiglione’s popular Book of the Courtier, denies ever paying much attention to developing skill through practice. Thirty consort compositions by Lawes that include the harp survive, and nearly 40 with the lyra viol in six different tunings.


The music itself is more discreet in its contrapuntal and harmonic originalities than in some of Lawes’s consort works, notably those accompanied by organ. (Phantasm has an excellent album of the latter on Linn 399.) The pattern is that of an instrumental arrangement of a vocal melody in two parts (the pavan that leads off the G-Minor Suite strongly suggests Dowland’s greatest hit, Flow my tears, and the aire that concludes the disc, a major key variant), followed by repeats with various divisions. Some of the dances also suggest the common practice of variations on a single theme, though Lawes inevitably finds some rhythmic or harmonic element to make each distinctive. The exception would be the “fantazya” of the D-Minor Harp Consort Suite. A more contrapuntal, clearly instrumental work than the dance movements on this release, its introduction of an intensely melancholy chromatic phrase in imitation at the three-quarter mark is worthy of Gesualdo, though presenting expressive extremes in music was not unusual in English composition of the period.


The musicians avoid textural monotony by alternating sequences of harp consort works and lyra viol solos. The performers are all accomplished and well known on their respective instruments, with especial praise due Philippe Pierlot. His 12 solos are technically proficient, rich in tone and character, and flexibly phrased while never losing sight of the dance origins of each piece.


Excellent sound, emphasizing clarity in all parts of the harp consort. Less individualized than some of Lawes’s music, these pieces have an irresistible vitality and simplicity. Strongly recommended.


FANFARE: Barry Brenesal


Another delightful disc of William Lawes’ music from the Flora label. This time we have consorts for ‘the Harpe, Base Violl, Violin and theorbo’ and lessons for the lyra viol. Lawes’ harp consorts survive mostly complete in the autograph sources, with the first 25 pieces arranged into six suites. Though some of the movements are simply dances, others like the Pavan of the opening consort on this disc, are substantial pieces in four real parts with elaborate divisions. In fact these seem to be amongst the first consort pieces to include divisions.
 
The harp consort was, I believe, without precedent in English music of this time and Lawes’ consorts are the only ones to survive with a specifically composed harp part. Harp usage seems to have arisen from the harp replacing the organ in the accompaniment of solo bass viol divisions. The genre did not survive the collapse of the English Royal Court in the 1640s, and Lawes himself died in the siege of Chester. The dating of the harp consorts is not entirely clear, but the shorter pieces started out in two-part versions, receiving their fuller orchestration when Lawes was appointed to court in 1635. The larger-scale pieces, which utilise the full four-part texture of the instrumentation, were composed last, probably to act as the first movements of suites which Lawes was in process of assembling.
 
The Harp Consort Suite in G, which opens the disc, starts with a Pavan and then an Almane, Corant and Saraband follow. The Pavan is a huge piece, lasting over nine minutes, full of wonderful textures and explorations of quite what this combination of instruments could do.
 
This is then followed by a group of pieces for lyra viol solo. This was a popular instrument in the 17th century, played by both professionals and amateurs. A lyra viol can refer to an instrument slightly smaller than a consort bass viol - to permit easier fingering, and playing of faster divisions - but generally a full-sized bass viol was used. Lawes composed around forty solo pieces for the lyra viol, much of it dance-based and aimed at amateurs. What we hear on this disc has been selected to display the broad range of the music with items formed into satisfyingly attractive suites.
 
None of the solos is extended but they are varied and delightful. A number are anonymous, but stylistically similar to Lawes’ work, including one which uses a form of pizzicato ornament called a thump! A Maske is an anonymous arrangement of Lawes’s Aire for five viols and organ, it contains some interesting and rather daring harmonies.
 
The Harp Consort Suite in D minor starts with the Fantayza. It is a complex piece in which Lawes takes advantage of the harp to create as many as five or six parts, with the harp supplying the extra. A glorious movement, followed by three simpler dances Aire, Coranto, Saraband.
 
There are two stand-alone Harp consorts: Paven and Aire. The Paven (another substantial work) is evidently the only one of the harp consorts not based on existing material. Both pieces show Lawes developing the possibilities of the consort.
 
This is a lovely disc. I have always had a great weakness for William Lawes’ music and for his mixed consorts in particular. The addition of a harp to the texture gives a real lift. The recording uses a gut-strung Italian triple harp, which would be a real luxury in this music as in Lawes’ time the majority of players would probably have had to make do with a wire-strung Irish harp.
 
All the music on this disc is richly attractive but the five large-scale harp consort pieces (the two Pavens, the Fantayza and the free-standing Aire) are substantial and supremely rewarding. The players are consummate in their playing, responding to each other with a real feeling of a consort.

 -- Robert Hugill, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Pavan by Anonymous
Performer:  Philippe Pierlot ()
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 08/2006 
Venue:  Bra-sur-Lienne 
Length: 2 Minutes 46 Secs. 
2.
Almande by Anonymous
Performer:  Philippe Pierlot ()
Period: Renaissance 
Date of Recording: 08/2006 
Venue:  Bra-sur-Lienne 
Length: 1 Minutes 1 Secs. 
3.
Thump Masque in G major by Anonymous
Performer:  Philippe Pierlot ()
Period: Renaissance 
Date of Recording: 08/2006 
Venue:  Bra-sur-Lienne 
Length: 1 Minutes 5 Secs. 
4.
Sarab Jigg in G major by Anonymous
Performer:  Philippe Pierlot ()
Date of Recording: 08/2006 
Venue:  Bra-sur-Lienne 
Length: 0 Minutes 56 Secs. 
5.
Air by Anonymous
Performer:  Philippe Pierlot ()
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 08/2006 
Venue:  Bra-sur-Lienne 
Length: 1 Minutes 50 Secs. 
6.
Mask in D minor by Anonymous
Performer:  Philippe Pierlot ()
Date of Recording: 08/2006 
Venue:  Bra-sur-Lienne 
Length: 1 Minutes 48 Secs. 
7.
Consort for harp, bass viol, violin & theorbo No. 1 in G minor by William Lawes
Performer:  Philippe Pierlot (), Giovanna Pessi (Harp), Eduardo Egüez (Theorbo),
Sophie Gent (Violin)
Date of Recording: 08/2006 
Venue:  Bra-sur-Lienne 
Length: 15 Minutes 26 Secs. 
8.
Corant for lyra viol (VdGS No. 431) by William Lawes
Performer:  Philippe Pierlot ()
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 08/2006 
Venue:  Bra-sur-Lienne 
Length: 2 Minutes 35 Secs. 
9.
Consort for harp, bass viol, violin & theorbo No. 4 in D minor by William Lawes
Performer:  Giovanna Pessi (Harp), Eduardo Egüez (Theorbo), Sophie Gent (Violin),
Philippe Pierlot ()
Date of Recording: 08/2006 
Venue:  Bra-sur-Lienne 
Length: 9 Minutes 40 Secs. 
10.
Divisions on a Pavan in G minor by William Lawes
Performer:  Philippe Pierlot ()
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 08/2006 
Venue:  Bra-sur-Lienne 
Length: 2 Minutes 41 Secs. 
11.
Corante I by William Lawes
Performer:  Philippe Pierlot ()
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 08/2006 
Venue:  Bra-sur-Lienne 
Length: 2 Minutes 39 Secs. 
12.
Harp Consort in G: Paven by William Lawes
Performer:  Giovanna Pessi (Harp), Eduardo Egüez (Theorbo), Sophie Gent (Violin),
Philippe Pierlot ()
Date of Recording: 08/2006 
Venue:  Bra-sur-Lienne 
Length: 9 Minutes 1 Secs. 
13.
Almaine, for lyra viol (VdGS No. 430) by William Lawes
Performer:  Philippe Pierlot ()
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 08/2006 
Venue:  Bra-sur-Lienne 
Length: 2 Minutes 10 Secs. 
14.
Corante II by William Lawes
Performer:  Philippe Pierlot ()
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 08/2006 
Venue:  Bra-sur-Lienne 
Length: 1 Minutes 29 Secs. 
15.
Harp Consort in G: Aire by William Lawes
Performer:  Sophie Gent (Violin), Eduardo Egüez (Theorbo), Giovanna Pessi (Harp),
Philippe Pierlot ()
Date of Recording: 08/2006 
Venue:  Bra-sur-Lienne 
Length: 3 Minutes 2 Secs. 

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