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English Music For Viols (5 CDs)
English Music For Viols (5 CDs)
Genre: Classical


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CD Details

All Artists: Fretwork
Title: English Music For Viols (5 CDs)
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: Virgin Classics
Original Release Date: 1/1/2008
Re-Release Date: 10/28/2008
Album Type: Box set
Genre: Classical
Styles: Chamber Music, Historical Periods, Baroque (c.1600-1750), Classical (c.1770-1830)
Number of Discs: 5
SwapaCD Credits: 5
UPC: 094639516421

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CD Reviews

Amazing deal on a great introduction to English Consort Musi
David I. Cahill | Beijing, China | 12/04/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"English consort music is the first great body of instrumental chamber music in Western music, 200 years or so before the First Viennese School of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, etc. (some may disagree and award the 17th-century Italian chamber sonata repertory this honors, but I simply find the English composers more inspired). This 5-cd box set by Fretwork presents four later-generation 17th-century composers, Jenkins, Lawes, Locke, and Purcell - each with sublime musical offerings on these cds. At $16.98 this is an amazing deal and a perfect introduction to 17th-century English consort music. One would like to see a companion box set of earlier-generation consort composers such as Byrd, Dowland, Thomas Lupo, Gibbons, Tomkins, or Ferrabosco II (at least the first three of which have been previously recorded by Fretwork). I have my own preferences for other versions than Fretwork's, such as Phantasm's recordings of the Jenkins consorts in 5 & 6 parts and both the Phantasm and Hesperion XXI versions of William Lawes' consorts in 5 & 6 parts. Phantasm's interpretations tend to be more cerebral, tense, and incisive, conjuring up a late Beethoven-like soundscape in these composers. Hesperion brings out a more stately, lyrical, singing quality to the music. The Fretwork recordings (if a bit like the Rose Consort's) achieve something different still - a measured, limpid or pellucid clarity that seems perfectly in character with the Englishness of these composers, in distinction to a more Italian or Mediterranean sound. But all of the Fretwork recordings are highly satisfying in their own right, and the recording quality is rich and plangent (though best brought out with a high-end audio system). Listeners will respond differently according to personal tastes. The more you are drawn into this music, the more you will want to compare different interpretations, and that's surely a measure of great music. I hope to see more bargain-priced releases like this to spread the word about this music."
Kerry Leimer | Makawao, Hawaii United States | 08/12/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I can't add to David Cahill's comments on the value and the music. He's also right about the period and the performances. I've listened to Fretwork since the 1980s, always impressed with their touch and ability. For those of you who do appreciate this period -- with its dense harmonies, drone-like calms and timbral intricacies -- you might also look into Fretwork's take on more contemporary pieces. Their 1997 SIT FAST release presents period works by Tye, Isaac, Ferabosco and Ockeghem along side the works of living composers including Gavin Bryars, Sally Beamish, Elvis Costello and others, all ably demonstrating the timeless qualities of the viol.

What I can add is the fact that this is not really a "Box Set", but a weirdly conceived and executed old-time bulky 2-CD jewel case retrofitted with the most bizarre, built-to-fall-out tray I have ever seen. For the dimensionally impaired, such as myself, the only good news is that the run time of one CD seems just sufficient for me to figure out how to reassemble the case, only to start reassembling it once more, after trying to return the CD to its tray... It makes for a full evening my friends, and frankly, Fretwork deserves a level of packaging that matches the level of their artistry."
If Musick Be the Food of Love ...
Giordano Bruno | Wherever I am, I am. | 03/12/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"... then money CAN buy you love after all! In fact, in the current economic turmoil, music is obviously the only luxury (or for some of us, necessity) we can afford. THIS IS AN ASTONISHING BARGAIN! As recently as a year or so ago, you would have needed a lot of 'plata' to build a collection of English Viola da Gamba Consort performances. Now you can buy the heart fo the repertoire, by one of the two dominant ensembles (the other is Phantasm), for about twelve bucks. Don't hesitate! This is the buy of your lifetime!

I've reviewed several of Fretwork's recordings previously. They are superb technicians, pellucid in tone, precise in rhythm, always worth hearing. The only thing that could make this 5-CD package more appealing would be a sixth CD!"