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Cedille CDR 90000-135 English Fancy Trio Settecento
This new CD from Cedille, a U.S. company despite its French-sounding name, contains English instrumental music from composers extant during the late-Renaissance and early to mid-Baroque periods. The excellent and detailed program notes point out that while all European nations developed musical genres with the name "fantasy," England alone adopted for a full century the Fantasy as its primary vehicle for instrumental chamber music.
Sixteenth and seventeenth-century English composers gave wing to their flights of fantasy with daring experiments in musical form, melody, harmony, counterpoint, decoration, instrumental techniques, gestures, colors, combinations, and even spiritual exploration.
The CD begins with the famous "Sellinger's Rownde" by the Elizabethan composer William Byrd (1539-1645), who wrote Anglican church compositions but was, in private, a Catholic. He and fellow-composer Thomas Tallis, also a Catholic, were tolerated in a turbulent era during which most Papists were hounded for refusal to attend compulsory Anglican services.
The rest of the CD contains Baroque music by the German-born violinist Thomas Baltzar, who visited England and dazzled all with his playing, and the English composers Thomas Hume, William Lawes, John Jenkins, Christopher Simpson, Matthew Locke, and - most famously - Henry Purcell, whom many claim to have been the finest English composer of his time. This was the era of Suites - collections of works for a variety of instruments, and this CD includes Suites by Lawes, Jenkins, Simpson, and Locke.
Between 1680 and 1695, Purcell composed music for over 50 theatrical productions, and this CD includes excerpts from several of these. He combines his native melodic gift and mastery of classic English counterpoint with French overture and dance forms and Italian vocal styles. The immediate attractiveness, enduring freshness, and satisfying complexity of these works have never been surpassed in the history of English music.
The playing is exemplary and the recording quality is first-rate.
- Ted Wilksmore....
By Ardella Crawford
American Record Guide
By James A. Altena
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ENGLISH FANCY (AN)