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This review is from: William Lawes - Consort Music (Audio CD)
I have to agree with semanteme - it's amazing that there aren't more reviews of this. Perhaps people just don't find it because Lawes isn't a well-known composer.
For anybody stumbling across this, don't be put off by how long ago the music was written (early 1600s) or the instruments it's played on (viols). The date would make it seem to fit in as "early baroque", but it's nothing like Vivaldi, Handel or Purcell or the plinky-plonk lute music of similar age; it's also nothing like the "merrie olde englande" type of music that is often used to accompany TV and films set in this sort of period. The sound and style defy classification into any of the usual music period buckets.
Viols come in many sizes and pitches so this creates a quite full sound, something like listening to a string quartet augmented by a couple of extra violas. Some aspects of the music are distinctly modern in appearance: instead of the familiar style of musicmaking by picking a tune and then doing some variation on it or repeating it, the movements have no particular tune but instead work their way across a sort of musical landscape, flowing freely across musical phrases, tempos and moods. Movements are somewhat like the single-movement symphony which became popular late 19thC early 20thC. Each consort set has multiple movements but again they don't follow the typical idea of alternating contrasting movements: each movement follows the same plan of freely flowing but this doesn't mean they all sound the same; they start from different phrases and tempos and go their own way from there. There's often little definite rhythm pounding out, again unlike typical baroque. (Note to modern composers: you didn't invent these ideas.)
The music can be quite deep at times, totally unlike the lightweight jollity or loud boisterousness more often associated with baroque. And the way it moves around can by quite sinuous. The short clips available on Amazon don't do it justice at all.
My favourite is the first consort set on disc 2 - Consort Sett a 6 in G minor. Amazing.