'Phantasm has been warmly received in these pages repeatedly in the past. Brian Robins noted of their release of consort material by Byrd and Iwico (Fanfare 21:5), “Whereas Fretwork adopted a considered poised interpretative style, Phantasm is considerably more expressive and excitable, bowing more deeply into the strings…” I think this expresses well a salient attribute of Phantasm’s recorded performances. The combination of the consort’s attention to rhythmic detail and textural breadth (that bowing!) gives Ward’s fantasias an animation that only enhances their attractiveness, without palliating their grave line. It’s fortunate that the quality of these performances are outstanding, as there’s no direct competition currently to this release that aims at presenting all the composer’s consort music for five and six viols. The Rose Consort offers a selection on cpo 999 928, along with several of Ward’s “ayres” for two bass viols and organ, but I admit to finding their sound rather wiry if spirited, and not easily enjoyable as a longterm listening experience. Chalk up another success for Phantasm, then. They do a real service for Ward’s consort music on this album, and it’s well worth the price.'