WILLIAM LAWES: Consorts to the Organ – Phantasm/ Daniel Hyde, organ – Linn multichannel SACD CKD 399, 77:44 [Distr. by Naxos] ****:
Salisbury native William Lawes (1602 – 1645) was born into a very musical family; both father Thomas (vicar choral at the Salisbury Cathedral) and brother Henry (composer) successful in the same field as well. When Charles I took the throne William was appointed “musician in ordinary” for the King’s “lutes, viols, and voices” in 1635, and the composer was to know only one employer his whole life.
His most notable music was the large number of viol consort pieces, works that astound by their complexity and vigorously bold thematic content. None are more jaw-dropping than the set of nine suites called Consorts to the Organ, a group of pieces most likely devised in the more insular settings of the King’s privacy as opposed to the more public—and critical—areas of entertainments and banquets. He liked to shock with disjointed and angular melodies, and expresses his dissonances in a manner that are not resolved in classical ways—if even at all. The music does not have that immediate appeal that so much other viol music from the time possesses, and it take some listening to appreciate the greatness of Lawes’s conception.
This is, as far as I can tell, the first Super Audio recording of any of these pieces, and the spacious and wide-ranging placement of the instruments serves the music well. Phantasm has already graced these pages in a review I did of Byrd’s complete consort music [https://www.audaud.com/2011/07/byrd-complete-consort-music-phantasm-linn/] and I hear nothing but maintenance of those high standards on this disc as well. Beautifully done, this weird, wild, and rewarding music.
— Steven Ritter
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