Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

The Alchemy Ensemble; Brian Capleton and Angela Cranmore, viols
Rec: 2001.
AMARILLI AM-EBU-01 31.9075 [58.45]

Amarilli Classical, The Coach House, Blackheath Way, West Malvern, Worcestershire WR14 4DR

No phone number available

Music for Two Lyra Viols

Cate of Bardie (The Queenes Jig) - T Ford
The wild goose chase (Sir John Philpots delight) - T Ford
Whipit and Tripit )M. Southcotes Jig) - T Ford
The Spirite of Musicke - T Hume
A Raven (M. Southcotes Raven) - T Ford
The Galiard - T Ford
An Almaine - M. Westovers farewell) - T Ford
What you will - T Ford
Dulce Auditum - Anon.
Change of Ayre - T Ford
A Raven (Sir Richard Westons delight) - T Ford
A Pill to purge Melancholie - M. Richard Martins Thumpe) - T Ford
Why not here - M. Crosse his choice) - T Ford
A Pavin - M. Maynes Choice) - T Ford
The Galiard - T Ford
An Almaine (Mounsieur Lullere his choice) -T Ford
Redes Pavin - Anon.
The Galliard - Anon.
The Duke at Hoistones delight - T Hume
Touch me sweetely - T Hume
A Snatch and away (Sir John Paulets toy) - T Ford
And it you do touch lie crie (Sir Richard Tichbornes toy) - T Ford
The Baggepipes (Sir Charles Howards delight) - T Ford
Forget me not - T Ford

The viol was a very popular instrument in 17th century England. Similar to other string instruments in size (it can range in size from that of a violin to that of a cello), the viol is a fretted instrument, which is much easier to begin playing than other string instruments. In addition, English viol music was generally scored in tablature, which is a system that marks notes according to their position along the strings. Musicians did not need to read standard scores, which made it a much more accessible instrument than many others.

The viol differs from other string instruments in one essential way - it is a monophonic instrument on which it is relatively easy to play chordal music. Chords on the viol are played either by playing two strings together, or by playing a kind of arpeggio, holding the last two strings longer. This gives the viol, when played as a solo instrument or in duos like this, a uniquely rich sound.

Lyra viol music, or music played the "lyra viol way", represented a specific type of playing and tuning. There is a huge body of music for the viol, both for solo viol, two viols and groups of viols, called consorts. This recording features music for two viols by Thomas Ford and Tobias Hume, as well as some anonymous works.

Those unfamiliar with viol music are quickly won over by the warm, lush sound of the instrument. This is even more apparent when two instruments play together, as on this recording. The music itself recalls that of other English music of the time, in its melodies and rhythms; the best-known composers of this period are, naturally, Henry Purcell and John Dowland. It can be slow and melancholy, such as The Spirite of Musicke, by Tobias Hume, a moving piece where the two viols seem to be playing different tunes, yet their music fits together perfectly. It can be lyrical and bouncy, as in the Thomas Ford piece The Galiard, which features a song-like high melody over a more rhythmic bass. And it can be lively and energetic, as with the Ford piece An Almain (Monsieur Lullere his choice), which is a dance piece that bubbles over with energy. Sometimes the music blends together to sound like just one instrument, as in the attractive anonymous work Redes Pavin, where the two viols sound almost like one voice singing.

This music is performed beautifully, on two excellent sounding instruments. The recording is fine, although it tends to lack depth at times. But, all in all, the unique sound of the viol is well-captured here.

A fine performance of some excellent 17th century viol music. For those who appreciate this unique instrument, this is an excellent recording. For those unfamiliar with its sound, this would be a fine introduction.

Kirk McElhearn


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