Jenkins: Five-Part Consorts

Jenkins: Consort Music for Viols in Five Parts
The Spirit of Gambo - Freek Borstlap
Musica Ficta 8030

In many ways, Jenkins' 5-part consorts are his most characteristic & consistently arresting music. The 6-part material is more old-fashioned, while the 4-part fantasies move on to leaner, more modern textures.... But here we see Jenkins at his most relaxed & lyrical — couching his harmonic daring in general feelings of ease & repose.

This 5-part writing remains incredibly impressive too, not only for its confrontation with history, which it makes in more subtle terms, but for its sheer articulation of a direct personal style across a spectrum of counterpoint (& various formal differences in the fantasies themselves...). There's a sort of comfort with change that comes across in Jenkins... an acceptance of a fast-moving reality (as was his era...), not in a passive sense, but flowing along with real personal expression & satisfaction....

And The Spirit of Gambo turns in a great performance: I was slow to switch to this reading for the list, having been hypnotized (to some degree...) by Phantasm & their "brilliant" style. But here the individual lines come out that much more clearly, particularly once one invests attention beneath the surface, and the mellow & "woody" tone of the instruments (built by/for the ensemble...) adds welcome shades of timbre. So I should have been a lot more enthusiastic about this album when it appeared, but am (hopefully) correcting that lapse now.

The fact is that The Spirit of Gambo is much more in line with the "spirit" of my usual performance preferences regarding Franco-Flemish polyphony....

To instrumental list.

Todd M. McComb
Updated: 1 March 2022