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16th Century Music for Viols
Thomas TALLIS (1505-1585)
In nomine à 4 No. 1 [2:55]
Solfaing Song à 5 [2:32]
Fantasia à 5 [3:26]
In nomine à 4 No. 2 [2:30]
Libera nos, salva nos à 5 [1:49]
John DOWLAND (1563-1626)*
Pavan Lachrimae Antiquae [4:04]
Pavan Lachrimae Antiquae [3:47]
Pavan Lachrimae Gementes [4:02]
Pavan Lachrimae Tristes [5:04]
Pavan Lachrimae Coactae [3:32]
Pavan Lachrimae Amantis [4:59]
Pavan Lachrimae Verae [6:03]
Christopher TYE (c1505-1573)
In nomine à 5 'Crye' [1:56]
William CORNYSHE (?-1523)
Fa la sol à 3 [5:55]
John BULL (1562/63-1628)
In nomine à 5 [2:45]
William BYRD c1540-1623)
Fantasia à 3 [1:13]
Robert PARSONS (c1535-1571/72)
In nomine à 5 [1:50]
Thomas PRESTON (?-after 1559)
O lux beata Trinitas [2:30]
Alfonso FERRABOSCO I (1543-1588)
Fantasia à 4 [3:33]
John TAVERNER (c1490-1545)
In nomine à 4 [1:51]
Fretwork; The Rose Consort of Viols*
rec. no dates and places given. DDD
REGIS RRC1333 [66:43]

The Regis label regularly reissues recordings. These are especially welcome if the original recordings are otherwise deleted. In this case the need for a reissue escapes me, as the two recordings from which the music is taken, are still available. The insert omits any information about the recording dates or the original discs. There is also no information about the artists involved.
The programme comprises music from two discs which were released by Amon Ra. The recording by Fretwork, including the complete consort music by Thomas Tallis, dates from 1987; the one by the Rose Consort of Viols, which was devoted to Dowland, appeared in 1992. Obviously in both cases a part of the original programme has been omitted. Fretwork's recording included some keyboard music, and the Dowland disc songs and lute pieces, with Caroline Trevor and Jacob Heringman. Those who love English consort music probably have the original discs. If not, they should look for these rather than for this compilation.
Having said that, the programme is well put together and delivers a useful survey of the genre. A wide spectrum of consort music is represented. At one end of the spectrum we find the 'ultra-objective', strictly contrapuntal In nomines, based on the music which John Taverner set to the words "In nomine Domini' in the Benedictus from his Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas. More than 150 of such pieces by over fifty composers from the English renaissance are known. Here we get the two settings by Tallis and one each by Christopher Tye, John Taverner, Robert Parsons and John Bull.
John Dowland's Lachrimae Pavans are at the other end of the spectrum. Their character is revealed by the original title: Sevean teares figured in sevean passionate pavans. No objectivity here, but a strong expression of emotion, which is quite unique in the consort repertoire of the English renaissance. They were highly influential, and the characteristic falling motif returns in many compositions in England and across Europe.
In addition we hear a number of fantasias, a more freely-flowing kind of piece without a clear design and of a character which can differ from one piece to the next. In contrast, Fa la sol by William Cornysh is based on a three-note motif. It is probably the oldest piece in this collection as Cornysh lived and worked around 1500; some of his sacred works are included in the Eton Choirbook. That means that this programme spans about a century of instrumental music, Byrd and Bull representing the generation from around 1600. Another contrast on this disc is the scoring: some pieces have a dense five-part structure, such as Dowland’s Lachrimae pavans and some In nomines, others are more transparent thanks to the scoring in three parts. In some pieces the viols are joined by a lute.
The performances are outstanding. Fretwork is one of the best ensembles in this kind of repertoire, and delivers incisive interpretations. The expression of Dowland's Lachrimae is perfectly conveyed by the Rose Consort of Viols. The tempi are well chosen, and the sound is well adapted to the passionate character of the music.
This disc could serve as an introduction to the genre of English consort music. The programme notes are concise but informative. This disc seems especially suited to newcomers who are not acquainted with this repertoire.
Johan van Veen