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ClassicsOnline Home » PHILIPS: Harpsichord Music
Still largely unknown today, Peter Philips was one of the finest composers to come from Elizabethan England and, afterWilliam Byrd, the most published in all the various genres of the time. This collection of harpsichord works, recorded on an original baroque instrument, includes all of his most famous pieces for keyboard – the Pavan and Galliard pairs and the Fantasia in F major – together with his sublime song and madrigal transcriptions.
Early Music America
Why isn’t the music of Peter Philips (1560/61–1628) better known and more widely performed? Perhaps, as Peter Holman suggested, he was a victim of musical chauvinism. Philips, a Catholic, left England to escape religious persecution and eventually settled in the Spanish Netherlands. Was he viewed by the English as not English? And/or seen as an outsider in Holland?
Philips’s keyboard works were popular in his day, though never published. Nineteen of his 32 surviving keyboard pieces are included in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, and he also left a body of sacred works in the European style—presumably further alienating the English.
The keyboard works on this recording, played by Elizabeth Farr on a beauty of a 1658 de Zentis instrument, are mostly intabulations of French and Italian songs, fantasias (also after vocal models?), and English dances. Farr is an emotive and technically proficient player and does a fine job here. She brings a sense of noble grief and tenderness to the “Paget Pavan and Galliard,” possibly written for Philips’s patron, the exiled Catholic Lord Thomas Paget. The intabulations are tastefully ornamented and dabbed with color. Most interesting are Philips’s take on Lassus’s “Bon jour mon Coeur” and “Le Rossignuol.” Excellent liner notes (by Farr), top-notch engineering, and a budget Naxos price make this an irresistible purchase.
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PHILIPS: Harpsichord Music