Elizabethan and Jacobean Consort Music
The binding medium in this programme is the music for a 'broken' consort, the mixed-family instrumental band that took shape as an adjunct to the Elizabethan theatre; Julian Bream's devotion to consort music has remained undimmed through three decades, though the personnel of his group has changed, the modern flute has given way to its renaissance ancestor and the violin to the treble viol. Ten of the items come from Thomas Morley's ''First Book of Consort Lessons'', arrangements of various pieces by Morley, Philips, Dowland, Strogers and Alison; two more are drawn from other sources, one, the Fantasia of Byrd, presented by a 'whole' consort of three viols. Did lutenists then use the right-hand nails (as Bream, also a guitarist, does) to help their elaborate divisions (variations) to be heard as they deserved to be? We do not know, nor, when they are so brilliantly played in such a scrupulously balanced recording, do we need to. The high quality of the music and the full spectrum of its moods, coupled with the ingenuity and variety of the 'orchestration', exclude any risk of monotony, but for good measure the proceedings are punctuated with smaller-scale diversions.
Nancy Hadden acts the part of the peripatetic van Eyck as well as 'joyning hands' with Bream in Nicholson's