Matthew Locke: Consort Music

Consort Music.jpg

Recording Date: 29 November - 1 December 1998
Recording Location: Forde Abbey, Chard, Somerset, England
Producer: Jonathan Freeman-Attwood
Recording Engineer: Mike Hatch
Liner Notes: Laurence Dreyfus/Martin Ross Cover Photo: Coneyl Jay
Production: Global Music Network


Phantasm offer a consistently illuminating approach to Locke’s eventful Fantasies.
Writing in the booklet, Laurence Dreyfus also draws attention to Locke’s ‘striking muscularity’ and also to his ‘purest lyricism and most … generous warmth’, dubbing his work ‘true music of consolation’. Changeable and abrupt though it may at first seem, it is certainly music that grows on you with repeated listenings.
Phantasm play with their customary expertise. Their combination of vibrant tone quality and strong rhythmic attack allows them to make the most of Locke’s mercurial musings, bringing lyrical gravity to the Fantasies and an exhilarating spring to the faster dances. A fairly close recording helps them in this, giving them at time the clarity and substance almost of a string quartet. By comparison the equally accomplished Fretwork have a thinner and less defined sound, and their performances are less consistent in offering moment-to-moment excitement. Their generally more subdued approach has power to charm … but for me it is Phantasm who tend to make more of this intriguing music.

Lindsay Kemp, Aug 2001 - published in Gramophone

Here’s another valuable contribution from Phantasm to the repertory of English viol consort music on disc. Locke’s suites consist, for the most part, of a substantial multisectional fantasia followed by a group of dance-like pieces, usually courante, ayre and saraband. One says ‘dance-like’ advisedly, because although they fall into the standard bipartite form with each half repeated, these are clearly no more dances for dancing than those in Couperin’s ordres or Bach’s keyboard suites and partitas. They are true chamber music, to be enjoyed above all by the players, who can relish the genuinely contrapuntal conversation of their individual parts and the witty shifts of rhythm (particularly in the courantes).
For all his turbulence as a personality, Locke’s music on the whole makes a less extravagant impression than that of William Lawes, which Phantasm has also recorded recently (reviewed by me on page 64 of the August issue). At the same time there is something almost theatrical about the way in which the various sections of the opening fantasias juxtapose contrasting material, contrasting moods. The young Purcell, who knew Locke’s music and composed an elegy on his death in 1677, learnt much from this, and Phantasm’s alert, pointed playing does full justice to it. The six four-part consorts are printed in Volume 32 of Musica Britannica, the three part ‘Flatt Consort’ in volume 31.

Jeremy Noble, Oct 2000 - published in International Record Review

David Skudlik