“No amount of historical study prepares one for the originality and daring of William Lawes’s Consorts to the Organ.” So Phantasm’s Laurence Dreyfus affirms. “The composer”, he says, “persuades you that backward is forward, that chaos is ordered, that ugly is beautiful”.
There’s no gainsaying the fact that Lawes plays unusual mind-games. He likes using musical material that seems so far-fetched it promises to be unworkable. But that’s his special gift: to bring plausibility and resolution to apparently extreme undertakings. Or, if you prefer to see it another way, 17th-century music with a spiking of 20th-century taste in its fondness for angularity and handling of dissonance. Phantasm’s sympathetic performances should win new friends for this sometimes almost bewildering music.