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William Lawes: Consort Sets in Five & Six Parts Import

4.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Import, August 13, 2002
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Lawes's "sets" are actually suites for five or six viols with an organ playing "underneath" them. Each shortish set is broken into even shorter parts: Fantazy, Aire, Paven, etc.--and while the formula remains essentially the same, the textures and harmonies are constantly changing, with dissonances and conversations between and among the various strings giving the works great variety. On these two beautiful CDs (the first devoted to Five parts, the second to Six), Jordi Savall and Hesperion XXI play on a pair of violins, four viols, and organ, offering great contrast and flavor and making us aware of just how energetic and fascinating counterpoint can be. The colors the six (or seven) musicians get from their instruments and the interplay among them is fantastic; the playing is superb. Fans of any type of chamber music will want to hear what this underrecorded composer who died too young (43) added to the genre. It's as if he created a new language, one that seems to have been waiting to be heard. A lovely, thoughtful couple of hours of music-making. --Robert Levine
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Product Details

  • Performer: William Lawes, Jordi Savall, Hesperion XXI
  • Audio CD (August 13, 2002)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Alia Vox Spain
  • ASIN: B000065VX6
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #116,471 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
This is truly moving and profound music by the wonderful but still not very well known genius William Lawes. You can find here both the highest level of contrapuntal skill, on par with such masters of polyphony as Byrd, Gibbons or Bach, and a unique "cavalier' spirit, quite unlike anything I have ever heard elsewhere. The performance is superb. I have two other versions of these works, performed by Fretwork and Phantasm, which are both excellent but don't quite move me the way Savall and Hesperion do. Out of well over 2000 "classical" CDs I own this certainly is one of my 10 "desert island" favorites.
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William Lawes was Charles I favourite musician. Charles was a big fan of the music of his time and a highly accomplished gambo player. He was not however a politician. Spending lawisly sums on partys and patronising the arts seemed like a good idea to the court that sourronded him, but the puritan mercant class hated him, his catolic ways and above all his spending. This tension ended with the king abolishing the parlimeant and going to Oxford with his men.
Admist this lived William Lawes. He inhabited a musical enviroment. The music he constructed was understood and appriciated by a few but the king. Lawes is deep and highly original. His very diffrent music more reasemblens 20Th century art music than 'classic' classical music. What one must have in mind when confronting the music is that this was a higly experimental time. Everything in this time was new and unproven and the music there and then was in a state of explosion. William Lawes went far benoyd the avantgarde of early barock however. His music concentrates on several harmonis rather than one, and this creates a deep, diffrent music: somewhat like a full bodied wine. Lawes music contrastes against how the western classical music later developed. One reason was that it was too complicated for the mainstreem listners. The other reason has to do with the situation Lawes lived in.
He spend a year or so in Oxford while the king waged a civil war. He was 43 years old and in a creative bloom. His best freind wrote in a diary, that was preserved, about Lawes. In it he tells in a often annoyed tone of voice about Lawes who braveld over: 'I have a musical world that will change this world, inside this head.' Lawes followed his king in a major battle soon after.
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As these beautiful pair of cd's demonstrate, William Lawes was probably the greatest and most original composer during the first half of the 17th century.His style of composition is totally unique and clearly far more advanced than his contemporaries - only John Jenkins can be regarded in the same league.William Lawes consorts of 5 and particularly of 6 parts are sumptuous,highly devoloped and incredibly wonderful works that in Jordi Savall's opinion deserve to be known as among the greatest chamber music of all time.I could not agree more with him.The Lawes consort setts are magical works indeed.Together with Matthew locke's consort of 4 parts and the fantasias and sonatas for strings by Henry Purcell they represent the rich tradition of 17th century baroque music at it's finest.
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