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William Lawes: Consort Sets In Five & Six Parts

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Customer Reviews

Life changing performance of life changing music

First, the music itself: Out of all the polyphonic music I have listened to, Lawes consort music is a high-water mark--in originality, expression, technical mastery. Everywhere there are crystal clear, sparkling ideas, and expressive idiosyncrasies. Everywhere is his astonishing contrapuntal mastery on display in the rigorous canonic imitation and technical devices. Where is Lawes in our classes, in our conservatories? Who is William Lawes to the very people--musicians and composers--who should appreciate him most? A no-one, a vague early music cypher like many composers of genius pre-18th century. Suffice it to say that this is music that cries out to be heard. It moves in wondrous pattern and "gallant" rhythm, exactly, somehow--trite though it may seem to say so--like the mercurial youth seen in the portrait. This expression is also due to the extraordinary performance, to which I will now turn.

Hesperion and Jordi Savall have given me so much delight over the years. They are one of the chosen groups that perform this music to whom a lifeless, mannered, or stilted performance is as impossible as a performance of the music of Elton John. What a waste words are when one can simply listen to them! The rhythmic vitality, expressive depths, and true heart of this music are unsurpassably conveyed by this group. Other discs I personally love are the Matthew Locke consort in Fower Parts (another astonishingly original composer) and Purcell's viol consorts (which rank among the finest music ever written). Bottom line, lovers of polyphonic music will likely experience a revelation with this composer and this performance; to the curious, the brilliance of this music will likely have an almost defiant character, as it did for me, challenging you with it's brilliance and intensity, and ultimately forcing you to contend with the notions we have of the patterns great music must follow.


Formed: 1974 in Basle, Switzerland

Genre: Classical

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Hesperion XXI is the leading early music organization of the Iberian peninsula. It is a small mixed ensemble of about 12 players and singers and varies somewhat depending on the repertory chosen. The founders of the group were bowed string instrument player Jordi Savall, vocalist Montserrat Figueras, plucked string instrument player Hopkinson Smith, and flutist/percussionist Lorenzo Alpert. Savall has been the musical director of Hesperion since the beginning. Hesperion XX made its first appearances...
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William Lawes: Consort Sets In Five & Six Parts, Hespèrion XXI
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  • $19.99
  • Genres: World, Music
  • Released: Jan 01, 2002

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