Ward: Consort music

Ward: Consort Music for five and six viols
Phantasm
Linn Records 339

This recording slipped through the cracks somehow, and I did not learn of it when it first appeared, but this is a very significant release. Although it is easy to view the English consort music as something of a historical dead end, and to some extent that is an accurate characterization, there is also some very highly appealing music here. Ward wrote one of the largest outputs, and also one of the best. He clearly deserves to be on this list.

One thing that makes this disc so appealing is that it concentrates on Ward's most serious music, the Fantasias in 5 & 6 parts. He also wrote a lot of lighter consort music, which was more what was represented on recording prior to this. In fact, Phantasm presents a complete program of the 5 & 6 part music here, giving it a definitive quality.

The performance supports that notion as well. This might be Phantasm's best interpretation, in fact, considering the program as a whole. This is wonderfully played music, with a great command & fluency with the repertory. The tone is excellent, pace, phrasing, everything. This recording definitely deserves attention.

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Todd M. McComb