It is indeed good news to report that MD&G is embarking on a new Peter Philips series dedicated to his organ and keyboard music. Born in 1560 or 1561, probably in London, Philips was the most published English composer and apart from Byrd, became the most influential musician during the reign of Elizabeth I.
Due to his Catholicism, he fled to Rome in the summer of 1582 and with the contacts he had there, particularly with Palestrina's school, his career continued to flourish. Together with Lord Thomas Paget, likewise an English Catholic refugee, he travelled to Genoa, Madrid, Paris, Antwerp and Brussels where Paget died in 1590. In 1591, Philips returned to Antwerp where he married and began to have his vocal music published. In 1593 he met Sweelinck in Amsterdam and the two became great friends but on his return to Antwerp in September 1593, ill-health forced Philips to stop in Middleburg where an English political intriguer betrayed him. While imprisoned at The Hague, he composed the 'Pavana Dolorosa' and 'Galiarda Dolorosa', two dramatic expressions of his miserable situation which can be experienced on tracks three and four of this CD.
In 1597, Philips was appointed court organist in Brussels, a position that brought him security and enabled him to publish several of his works. He held this post until his death in 1628. All the works in this album are little gems that reflect the talent of a great craftsman. Full of delightful twists and at times, emotional outbursts, these pieces are able to create an atmosphere of peace and solace, rare commodities these days. The soloist, Siegbert Rampe amply betrays his great love for this music which he interprets with supreme artistry yet restrained enthusiasm. I am also full of admiration for his enlightened essay which sheds some interesting facts on the Breughel reproduction printed on the front of the inlay card. This is a fine first instalment of what promises to be an exciting voyage of discovery.
Copyright © 2005, Gerald Fenech