Sunday, 20 December 2015

Ward - Fantasies & Verse Anthems - Phantasm

Rating: 3/5

Not up to Phantasm's usual standard

Phantasm are a superb ensemble who have made some quite brilliant recordings over the years, including their previous disc of consort music by Ward.  Although this is good, to my ears it doesn't quite come up to their usual phenomenal standard.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with the viol playing; it is as rich-sounding, technically brilliant and thoughtfully expressed as ever.  However, the vocal and choral pieces really don't do much for me.  This is partly due, I'm afraid, to the choir who, although technically perfectly competent, don't bring much in the way of expressiveness and have a rather distant, indistinct sound which doesn't make the music really shine and reduces the viol parts to mere background.

It's fine in its way, but for me this disc lacks the real depth and musical insight which makes Phantasm the world-class ensemble they are, and I find it just a slight disappointment.  I am sorry to be lukewarm about an ensemble whom I normally love, but I can only give this a very qualified recommendation.

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