PHANTASM - TYE - BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
01 November 2017
BBC Music Magazine
Performance: four stars
Sound: five stars
'Sing ye trew & care not, for I am trew, feare not'. So wrote the quixotic Christopher Tye, counselling his performers to trust that the sometime implausible dots on the page were correct. His consort music is indeed visionary, and the myriad false relations, shocking theatrical turns, and anarchic metrical effects, amount to a glorious portrait of the 'peevish and humoursome' Protestant finale. Stefano Scondanibbio's Mas Lugares (2003), a glassy, ghostly daring his musicians to push musical boundaries. Phantasm is an inspired fit for this repertoire. The musicians' distinctive sound - immediately warm but spiced with an edgy kick - is as assured as ever, ideal for Tye's oft-madcap In nomines. Bridging the vocal motet and instrumental fantasia, many questions remain unanswered about the mystical genre that captured the imaginations of16th-century consort composers, and over whom Tye ruled as the radical ground breaker. Director Laurence Dreyfus's insightful notes not only contextualise and hypothesise, but helpfully guide listening too. Tye's complete consort music is far from abstract and ranges from depictions of Rachel weeping for her children to righteous warnings. Phantasm delight in the eccentricities of his writing climaxing in the extraordinary Sit Fast, Tye's longest, breathtakingly complex, barline-free escapade (which bore, and warranted, the composer's advice '...feare not'). If the dynamic range of this disc is sometimes a little limited, the consort's percussive energy brings a contemporary feel to proceedings and the result, beautifully recorded in Boxgrove Priory, turns out to be very convincing.