John Jenkins

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: John Jenkins
LABELS: Avie
ALBUM TITLE: Phantasm
WORKS: Six-Part Consorts
PERFORMER: Phantasm
CATALOGUE NO: AV 2099
In the first of three discs devoted to the 17th-century English composer John Jenkins, Phantasm explores his six-part consorts – ‘sublime discourses,’ as they were fittingly described by one of Jenkins’s contemporaries Thomas Mace.

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These works really stretch the art of consort playing to its limits, demanding at once technical bravura and an expressive palette that ranges from sombre intensity to radiant joie de vivre. Phantasm deserves full marks for these laudable interpretations: indeed, so harmonious is their mutual musical vision that it is hard to believe there are really six individual players at work here. Their ‘discourse’ is lucid and animated, characterised by eloquent articulation, a luminous sound and finely judged internal balance. The all-pervasive dance rhythms are brought out with a delightfully supple lightness of touch, while moments of melancholy and reflection are given due weight.

Jenkins couldn’t resist adding a dash of fashionable Italianate flamboyance to these works, and treble, tenor and even bass viol constantly vie for virtuosic supremacy. At no time daunted,

these adroit players negotiate

Jenkins’s detailed counterpoint with

a fleet-fingered dexterity, and ever

more intricate elaborations are cast around with brazen panache. The results are a delicious mix of Italianate skill and English restraint.

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Kate Bolton