It is the music's deep expressiveness and the dramatic tension created by its unpredictable harmonies which Phantasm emphasise in this striking recording, both in their varied dynamics and in their use of vibrato. These performances are, if anything, even more striking than those by Fretwork, whose approach was, on the whole, plainer - one might even say more severe. Speeds here are faster in general and there is rather more variety of bowing and hence of articulation. If it weren't that rival versions inevitably affect each other's sales, one could rejoice that two such fine, though differing, readings of these superb works were both available.
I was glad to find my enthusiasm for two of my present choices shared by colleagues to such an extent that both won Gramophone awards late last year: Rameau's Hippolyte... and Purcell's Fantazias become more riveting in their expressive and dramatic contrapuntal mastery on every rehearing.




Feb 1997


Lionel Salter

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