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ClassicsOnline Home » LAWES, W.: Royall Consorts (The) (Les Voix Humaines)
Lawes Royall Consorts Les Voix Humaines
The Lawes brothers, Henry (1596-1662) and William (1602-1645), occupy an important position in English music between William Byrd (1540-1623) and Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625) and the later 17th-century composers Matthew Locke and Henry Purcell. During his own lifetime, William was much respected by his colleagues in the service of King Charles I. Most of his music was written for entertainments at Court. He wrote in many genres, but was best known for his dance music and dramatic works, including masques, and especially for his creativity in chamber music. He studied with the well-known early 17th-century musician Giovanni Coprario (born John Cooper), who taught the bass viol to Prince Charles. When Charles became King in 1625, Coprario was his composer-in-ordinary. Lawes, who developed a reputation as a performer of the new 12-course theorbo (a larger, lower-tuned lute with extra bass strings), was part of this music circle. Lawes's death in 1645 was untimely; during the Civil War, he fought for the King and volunteered for military action at the Siege of Chester, which cost him his life.
Lawes's extensive body of music includes the Royall Consorts, composed for two treble instruments (violins or treble viols), two bass viols, and a continuo for two plucked strings. Lawes developed the then-new custom of grouping his instrumental works into collections or suites, which he called "Setts". Each Sett opens with a Paven or a Fantazy, followed by a collection of Almans, Aires, Corants, and Sarabands and sometimes a Morriss, a Galliard, or an Ecco movement. Lawes also composed at least 11 Harpe Consorts.
This 2-CD set contains 10 Setts of Royall Consorts; the performances are, to my ear, exemplary, and the recorded quality is excellent. The well-written program notes are very informative. If early 17th-century music is to your taste, this 2-CD set will surely please you.
- Ted Wilksmore....
By Mark Sealey
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LAWES, W.: Royall Consorts (The) (Les Voix Humaine...