John Bryan, The Viol

John Bryan (The Rose Consort of Viols and the University of Huddersfield) writing in The Viol (Summer, 2015), 26-27

On this generous pair of CDs (144 minutes’ music in total) Phantasm perform 62 four-part dances from the [William Lawes’s Royal Consort in] the ‘old version’ (mostly almans, corants and Sarabands but with a few majestic pavans) as well as one five-part ‘organ’ set (in F major) and two of the six-part sets (C minor and C major) which they did not have room for on their previous lawes recording. It is wonderful to have all this music accessible on CD, though it makes for a gargantuan Lawesian feast.

Elizabeth Kenny’s contributions are delightful, especially in her ever-varied decorations of final notes, and her links between sections.

Throughout this collection Phantasm’s playing is full of verve and drama. The two trebles (Laurence Dreyfus and Emilia Benjamin) are fearless in the highest register and their unisons spot on…. Jonathan Manson’s tenor is sonorous when it occasionally becomes the real bass, or sings mellifluously in the alto range, while Markku Luolajan-Mikkola consistently provides a sure underpinning to the consort.

For those listeners who see Lawes as the dashing cavalier who died fighting for his king, Phantasm’s recording has all the blood and guts you might want.


Aug 2015


John Bryan

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