Fretwork (Signum Classics)
Signum Classics SIGCD716 64:06 mins
Thomas Lupo was the most famous member of a dynasty of Venetian musicians who settled in England; he served as a violinist and viol player for Queen Elizabeth I and the Jacobean Princes Henry and Charles, for whom he wrote many of his viol consorts. The 19 free-flowing Fantasias and brooding Pavan on this disc reveal a composer of subtle refinement. Lupo’s Italian roots emerge in the five- and six-part works, with their distinctly madrigalian style and the pervasive influence of Luca Marenzio, whose madrigals were well-known in England. The lighter three-part works are delightfully varied and experimental, Lupo exploiting different combinations of viols to colouristic effect.
Fretwork highlights Lupo’s various affects: here, the style is light and breezy – buoyed by lithe, dancing rhythms, gracefully articulated; elsewhere, wistful melodies and chromaticisms evoke a darker more introspective mood. Throughout, the consort’s sound is luminous and so finely balanced that even in the more intricate contrapuntal works individual lines remain lucid.