All products and recordings are chosen independently by our editorial team. This review contains affiliate links and we may receive a commission for purchases made. Please read our affiliates FAQ page to find out more.

Purcell: Fantazias

Chelys Consort of Viols (BIS)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

Chelys Consort of Viols
BIS BIS-2583 (CD/SACD)   62:38 mins


Purcell’s Fantasias and In Nomines for viol consorts of varying strengths are stellar representatives of a glorious legacy of music for these instruments. Dating from around 1680, the pieces reveal Purcell’s gift for polyphony; subtle and elusive, they reflect the sophisticated development of an English tradition forged by earlier composers of the English Baroque, notably Gibbons and Locke.

Chelys Consort explores the music’s expressive intimacy with a sensibility that touches our deepest thoughts and emotions. This may be felt in the warmly expressive four-part Fantasias in B flat, D minor, A minor and G major, whose textures are lucidly revealed. An effective feature of the programme is the inclusion of a Rondeau and Chaconne from The Fairy Queen, a Ground from Dioclesianand the celebrated Chacony in G minor to provide effective, lighter contrast.

Among noteworthy recordings of the Fantasias are those by Phantasm, London Baroque, Ricercar Ensemble, Fretwork, August Wenzinger and Nikolaus Harnoncourt, whose version is comfortably standing the test of time. This newcomer, with its exploration of the music’s multi-layered stylistic and affective nuances, sits comfortably alongside them. Sometimes ardent, sometimes introspective, the playing affords immense pleasure. Ideal recorded sound comes with an interesting note by Chelys member, Ibrahim Aziz.


Nicholas Anderson