BBC Radio 3 Lunchtime Recital at Wigmore Hall – Phantasm with Elizabeth Kenny – Lawes & Locke

Royall Consort No.10
Consort of Four Parts No.5
Royall Consort No.5
The Flatt Consort “for my cousin Kemble”
Royall Consort No.6

Phantasm [viol consort] with Elizabeth Kenny (lute)

Reviewed by: Barnaby Page

Reviewed: 22 May, 2017
Venue: Wigmore Hall, London

Elizabeth KennyPhotograph: has earned some estimable awards for its William Lawes disc, The Royal Consort; and he was here paired with his seventeenth-century contemporary Matthew Locke for this gorgeous and well-balanced Wigmore Hall recital.

The music is largely based on dance forms, and one might assume it would rather gloss over the disquiets and upheavals of the era (Lawes was killed by a Roundhead during the Civil War). But there is genuine depth of feeling within the formalised structures and rhythms, notably in the more contemplative, wistful passages of Locke’s four-part Consort and later the Flatt Consort with its chromatic aspects foreshadowing Henry Purcell’s music (a friend of Locke’s).

Here, and in the more-exuberant episodes, Phantasm conveyed the music with brilliance – literally: the musicians’ collective tone is shiny, not particularly sonorous, almost tangy at times, and it suits perfectly. There was a lovely lyrical line in Lawes’s Fifth Consort, then hectic energy later, the musicians powering ahead with unceasing pulse. The bouncy Sixth Consort was followed by further vivacious Lawes as an encore, the ‘Courant’ and the ‘Sarabande’ from the Fourth Consort.

I think Locke is perhaps slightly the more interesting composer: so it’s good to hear that his output, along with that of Christopher Tye, is next on Phantasm’s recording agenda for Linn, and bodes very well indeed.

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