Collection: Early English Keyboard Music

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Bull,Byrd,Gibbons,Morley,Philips,Tomkins
LABELS: Philips
WORKS: Music by Byrd, Bull, Tomkins, Morley, Gibbons, Philips
PERFORMER: Gustav Leonhardt (harpsichord, virginal)
CATALOGUE NO: 438 153-2 DDD

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This disc takes us on a whistle-stop tour of English keyboard music in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. The fantasy, pavan and galliard were among the most popular forms of their day. The latter two dance movements were often paired together, and sometimes linked thematically. The pavan, wrote Thomas Morley, was ‘a kind of staide musicke, ordained for grave dauncing’, while the briefer galliard serviced ‘a lighter and more stirring kinde of dauncing’.

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The most attractive examples here are Bull’s charming John Lumley’s Pavan and Galliard and Byrd’s Pavan ‘Ph. Tregian’ & Galliard, its regal pavan among the disc’s high spots. Byrd’s finely wrought My Lady Nevell’s Ground is also included, while of the handful of fantasias here, the longer of the two by Orlando Gibbons is especially captivating. Much of the rest of the music is pleasant, though hardly out of the ordinary. Despite the persuasive advocacy of Gustav Leonhardt’s superb playing, I suspect the disc’s appeal will remain confined to the specialist audience. Graham Lock