Unquestionably, Henry Purcell was the greatest musical dramatist in 17th century England. But this does not mean that other composers were left in the lurch. On the contrary, many have left their mark in the field of song writing, and two of Purcell's great predecessors were the Lawes brothers, Henry and William.
Apart from being musicians, they had a wonderful reputation for being peace makers and friends who knew how to make merry. William, the youngest, was born in 1602 and he became famous for his instrumental works. His songs were criticised as being too superficial or overshadowed by the poetry, but his contributions on this CD reveal more to his simple genius than at first might be evident. He died in the siege of Chester in 1645.
Henry was born in 1596 and by the time of his death in 1662 he had made a name for himself as an excellent teacher and singing instructor. He was also one of the innovators of the concert series, and had the audacity to introduce female singers on such occasions. The disc also includes some instrumental pieces by the Lawes and two other contemporary musicians, René Saman and Cuthbert Hely.
This is music of the utmost fragility and nostalgia and one has to take profound care with the harmonic gentleness and hidden nuances of these unique treasures. All singers and instrumentalists lend wonderful support with the contributions of Robin Blaze and Elizabeth Kenny particularly arresting. Another excellent issue for the Lawes discography which as expected is beautifully recorded and presented.
Copyright © 2007, Gerald Fenech