"Sensuous" is not perhaps the word that comes most readily to mind in connection with the viol consort, but Phantasm's richly satisfying sound fully justifies its use in the booklet accompanying this delectable disc. Their superb playing, combined with the fascinating excellence of Jenkins's music, should banish any suggestion that the consort repertoire is an acquired and specialised taste.
The 17 fantasias recorded here display an amazing wealth of imagination, invention and ingenuity. Each has its own distinctive character, some of them, such as No 15, reflecting Jenkins's enjoyment of complex rhythmic puzzles, while others, such as No 4 with its intriguingly distant modulations, show his equal enjoyment of harmonic exploration.
Rapid changes of mood and style, from playfully lightfooted to deeply tragic, can produce an almost kaleidoscopic effect, as in No 10, whose busily contrapuntal and slightly sinister opening is interrupted by a scrap of dance-like triple time, followed by a slow reflective passage.
Phantasm's purposeful, clear-textured and sensitive performances leave no room for doubt that Jenkins is one of this country's greatest 17th-century composers.