BBC Music

This is very exciting playing indeed. The orientation of viols, held upright from the knees, encourages smooth bow-strokes articulated from fingers and wrist. Phantasm adds a lifted stroke, more associated with a violin band. This creates an exceptionally wide tonal palette noticeable from the Fantasia à 6 which starts the disc - wonderfully light before the foil of seamless counterpoint which follows. The four members of Phantasm together with two guests, and led by the rigorous yet lightly worn scholarship of Laurence Dreyfus, focus on every detail: motifs emerge and retreat in a constant flux of sound. Every strong beat of Fantasia No. 3 expels a dissonance - an extraordinary level of intensity; a single note (No. 2) expands gradually to a rich six-part sonority; chordal textures (No. 1) dance airily. Dreyfus admits being warned against trespassing on keyboard repertoire. For me, the acidic harmonic clashes of Pavan Lord Salisbury are positively enhanced by his transcription. I'm less sure, though, about borrowing from vocal sources: for The Silver Swan, 'apt for voyces or viols', my memory provided the text, but two wordless anthems give an impression of spoken drama shorn of text and played in mime. Otherwise, a revelation - viols fashioning a new world of sound - within a perfectly recorded ambience.



Mai 2004


George Pratt

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