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  • WILLIAM LAWES Consort Sets in Five & Six Parts
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WILLIAM LAWES Consort Sets in Five & Six Parts
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Reference: AV9823

  • Hespèrion XXI
  • Jordi Savall

“Nor was the King’s soul so ingrossed with grief for the death of so near a Kinsman, and Noble a Lord, but that hearing of the death of his deare servant William Lawes, he had a particular mourning from him when dead, whom he loved when living, and commonly called the Father of Musick”.
History of the worthies of England, Thomas Fuller (1662)

Additional Information
Performers

Hespèrion XXIManfredo Kraemer (CDII) & Pablo Valetti (CDII), violonsSergi Casademunt, Sophie Watillon, Philippe Pierlot & Lorenz Duftschmid, violes de gambeLuca Guglielmi (CDI) & Michael Behringer (CDII), organo di legnoJordi Savall, viole de gambe & direction

Track List

CD I / Consort sets in five partsI. Consort Set a 5 en sol mineur : Fantazya : a 5 – On the Playnsong : a 5 – Aire : a 5 II. Consort Set a 5 en la mineur : Fantazy n° 1 : A 5 for ye violls – Fantazia n° 2 : a 5 – Aire : a 5III. Consort Set a 5 en ut mineur : Fantazia : a 5 – Aire n° 1 : a 5 – Paven : a 5 – Aire n° 2 : a 5IV. Consort Set a 5 en fa majeur : Fantazy : a 5 – Paven : a 5 – Aire : a 5V. Consort Set a 5 en ut majeur : Fantazy : a 5 – Paven : a 5 – Aire : a 5CD II / Consort Set in six partsVI. Consort Set a 6 en sol mineur : Paven : a 6 – Fantazy : a 6 – Aire : a 6VII. Consort Set a 6 en ut majeur : Fantazy n° 1 : a 6 – Fantazy n° 2 : a 6 – Aire : a 6VIII. Consort Set a 6 en fa majeur : Aire n° 1 : a 6 – Fantazy n° 1 : a 6 – Aire n° 2 : a 6 – Fantazy n° 2 : a 6IX. Consort Set a 6 en si bémol majeur : Fantazia : a 6 – Aire : a 6 – Inominy : a 6X. Consort Set a 6 en ut mineur : Fantazia n° 1 : a 6 – Fantazia n° 2 : a 6 – Inomine : a 6 – Aire : a 6

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“Nor was the King’s soul so ingrossed with grief for the death of so near a Kinsman, and Noble a Lord, but that hearing of the death of his deare servant William Lawes, he had a particular mourning from him when dead, whom he loved when living, and commonly called the Father of Musick”.
History of the worthies of England, Thomas Fuller (1662)

On 24th September, 1645, the untimely death of William Lawes at the age of 43, during the siege of Chester, prematurely deprived England of one of the most innovative and fascinating musical figures of the day. As a tribute to this brilliant composer, the too-long-forgotten “Father of Musick”, we have decided to mark the 400th anniversary of his birth with a complete recording of all ten Consort Sets in Five & Six Parts.

It is undoubtedly in this collection of Fantasias, In Nomine, Arias and dance suites, conceived in the strict classical tradition of viol sets (with 5 five-part Sets for 5 viols & organ, and 5 six-part Sets performed here by 2 violins, 4 viols & organ), that the true essence of Lawes’s enigmatic, impassioned and innovative art is to be found in its purest and most manifest form: inventiveness and masterly skill, boldness and discipline, sensitivity and virtuosity, poetry and passion, spirituality and sensuality, are unfailingly combined and developed with great freedom through a bold and thorough command of the expressive potential of all aspects of melody, counterpoint and harmony. William Lawes is uncompromising in his adoption of a musical discourse which, even today, surprises us with the intensity of its expressive power and its unequivocal modernity.

After more than thirty years of study and experience with the team of violists in Hespèrion XX and XXI (including research, teaching, concert performances and recordings) in the viol consort repertoire, from its origins to the last Fantasias by Henry Purcell, and particularly in our recordings of its most representative composers such as Christopher Tye, William Byrd, Anthony Holborne, John Dowland, William Brade, Orlando Gibbons, John Coprario, Alfonso Ferrabosco, John Jenkins, Matthew Locke and the great Henry Purcell, not forgetting the wonderful composers of the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods, we have approached the interpretation of William Lawes’s music with great respect and fascination, conscious above all that the composer’s great daring and experimentation, evident in so many instances of his extremely audacious handling instrumental polyphony, as well as in the unique and highly individual nature of his composition, are always driven by a profound inner logic at the service of quintessential musical meaning and expression.

Like Dowland’s Lachrimae, Purcell’s Fantasias, Bach’s The Art of Fugue, Haydn’s The Seven Last Words of our Saviour on the Cross and Beethoven’s last string quartets, the Consort Sets by William Lawes deserve to be known not only as one of the most original masterpieces of chamber music of all time, but, above all, because of the extraordinary beauty, poetry and passion which are articulated in their balanced interplay of fleeting sounds, melodies and harmonies, which in turn offer a precious glimpse of an exceptional spirit, a sensitive and enigmatic voice that we are only just beginning to come to know, but one which will become increasingly indispensable in the fascinating process of rediscovering an important musical past.

JORDI SAVALL
Vienna, 30th April, 2002

Lawes, and Coprario, with whom he frequently played. In 1635, he was appointed “ordinary musician for lutes and voice” at the Court of Charles I, who dubbed him “the Father of Musick”. A Royalist, he followed the prince when the Court was transferred to Oxford in 1642 and enlisted in the king’s army. He fought in the civil war of 1645 and died defending a garrison in Chester that same year.

During his short career, William Lawes composed all kinds of music: vocal and instrumental pieces, religious music; he was also the most important composer of music for the theatre before Henry Purcell? His was the great age of the “masque”, the official Court entertainment? And, of course, chamber music for viol consorts, which were very popular ensembles at that time. A great lover of the theatre, Lawes distinguished himself from composers of the preceding generation by introducing a dramatic quality and unusual expressiveness into consort music. Aware of the technical possibilities of the instruments and the new sounds that could be achieved with the consort, Lawes did not hesitate to introduce innovations in his composition: dissonance, changing textures and colour, unexpected harmonic modifications in the melodic line, conceived with a great sense of the music’s architecture. These 5 and 6-part pieces exude great energy, written in the form of dance movements which compose a kaleidoscope of moods and sounds. The resulting music is sumptuous.

Tireless in his task of rediscovering English music, Jordi Savall has decided to mark the 400th anniversary of the birth of William Lawes by offering with his ensemble Hespèrion XXI the complete Consort Sets in Five & Six Parts by this outstanding composer of the first half of the 17th century. A double CD which forms a single unified whole, allowing the listener to savour the full-bodied, voluptuous consort sound of Hespèrion XXI.

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