Jenkins: Five- & Six-Part Consorts

Jenkins: Five- & Six-Part Consorts
Phantasm - Laurence Dreyfus
5: Avie Records 2120
6: Avie Records 2099

Jenkins is a composer who was writing in a style that was long abandoned by more famous composers of his day. Consequently, his reputation can vary considerably, depending on one's views of this particular style. I greatly enjoy it, and so am glad Jenkins continued to write this type of music well into the 1600s. I am finally embracing listing all of his major works here, something I had long resisted, perhaps feeling the need to be more selective with a so-called "lesser" figure. The truth becomes that, in the world of English consort music, Jenkins is not a lesser figure.

In many ways, Jenkins' 5-part consorts are his most characteristic & consistent music. The 6-part material is more old-fashioned, but for some reason, shows up on recording more often. Although Jenkins' 4-part fantasies have distinct merit with their leaner textures, here we see Jenkins with his most traditional music, particularly in the 6-part consorts. The 6-part consorts show him with more daring, with a wealth of tricks.

The performance by Phantasm is of high quality, drawing on their broad experience with the English consort repertory, and making this an easy choice. Even if Jenkins did not have much historical influence, his abstract instrumental writing continues to make for consistently enjoyable listening, nearly 400 years later. The main reason for this would seem to be the basic equality of the parts, surely at least implicitly a political statement.

To instrumental list

Todd M. McComb