W Lawes: Consort Sets in Five & Six Parts /Hesperion XXI * Savall
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Trust the indefatigable Jordi Savall to spot an intriguing 2002 anniversary--400 years since the birth of the English composer William Lawes, one of Charles I's most prized musicians. Lawes fought for his king in the English Civil War, and was killed during the struggle for the city of Chester. How Lawes' music must have chimed in with the lavish surroundings of Charles' court, being elaborate and complex, rich and passionate, yet poised and dignified. David Pinto's intriguing sleeve-note on these three- and-four-movement sets traces the influences--Italian madrigals and popular songs of Lawes' day, sacred music written as much as a century earlier, and most haunting of all, material that links to the turbulent times he witnessed. The last of the Consort Sets à 6 breathes the agonies so many experienced and in the final Aire, suggests the call to arms. Too often repertoire such as this is relegated to being background music. But these are glorious inspirations to immerse oneself in--which also bring history alive. As ever, Savall and his players offer consummate musicianship, the lines wondrously spun and interwoven, the balance and weight of sound immaculate. A vivid recording, too. --Andrew Green
Top Customer Reviews
Subtle. introspective, dark, brooding, perplexing, complex. Not suitable for light-weights or as background music but a real jewel. Fabulous. Listen to it again and again!
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Admist this lived William Lawes. He inhabited a musical enviroment. The music he constructed was understood and appriciated by a few but the king. Lawes is deep and highly original. His very diffrent music more reasemblens 20Th century art music than 'classic' classical music. What one must have in mind when confronting the music is that this was a higly experimental time. Everything in this time was new and unproven and the music there and then was in a state of explosion. William Lawes went far benoyd the avantgarde of early barock however. His music concentrates on several harmonis rather than one, and this creates a deep, diffrent music: somewhat like a full bodied wine. Lawes music contrastes against how the western classical music later developed. One reason was that it was too complicated for the mainstreem listners. The other reason has to do with the situation Lawes lived in.
He spend a year or so in Oxford while the king waged a civil war. He was 43 years old and in a creative bloom. His best freind wrote in a diary, that was preserved, about Lawes. In it he tells in a often annoyed tone of voice about Lawes who braveld over: 'I have a musical world that will change this world, inside this head.' Lawes followed his king in a major battle soon after. Having been forbidden to show his face anywhere near the fighting, he anyhow rushed out on the feilds to show his king his patriotism, and got shot in the head after a minute or two. Lawes friend writes that the king couldn't belive his ears when he heard that Willam Lawes was dead and Charles where deeply saddend by it. Charles I was beheaded not long after by Oliver Cromwell, who began his military dictatorship by outlawing music performing and theatrical plays. Music got back, eventually, but Willam Lawes was forgotten. Untill now. The epithet on his urn in England (Salisbury Cathedral) tells a lot about him "Concord is conquered, in this urn there lies The Master of great Musick's mysteries: And it is a riddle, like the cause, Will Lawes was slain, by those whose wills were Lawes".