Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Lawes - The Harp Consorts - Eilander/Les Voix Humaines

Rating: 5/5

Excellent Lawes

This is an excellent and hugely enjoyable recording of the Harp Consorts of Willam Lawes.  I have a number of very fine recordings of some of Lawes's other consort music, but this is the first time I heave heard the Harp Consorts.  They, and the performances here, stand very well beside those I already have.

The Consort of a diverse mixture of instruments had developed as an idea during the first half of the 17th Century and Lawes (who died during the Civil War) was one of its finest exponents.  The music here is original, diverse and extremely engaging to the listener.  He uses his combination of instruments - harp, theorbo, violin and two bass viols (violas da gamba) - very well so that there is real tonal as well as melodic and harmonic interest here and the whole effect is simply delightful.

The musicians are first-rate.  I have enjoyed the work of the gamba duo Les Voix Humaines for several years now since I began buying their excellent series of Sainte-Colombe recordings.  Stephen Stubbs, David Greenberg and especially harpist Maxine Eilander are also excellent and they play with a deep understanding of the music and excellent cohesion and precision in their ensemble playing.  It's a great performance of this music and really makes it shine.

The recorded sound is good - although the gambas are slightly under-recorded for my taste, Stephen Stubbs's notes are full of fascinating scholarly detail and the presentation is attractive.  I would recommend this very warmly to anyone with the slightest interest in music of this period - it's a really good disc.

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