The broken consort music of Matthew Locke—much of it composed for King Charles II's ''private Musik''—deserves to be better known. Locke's suites for two violins, viol and continuo are polished examples of an English genre crowned by the works of Purcell. For some time now, we have enjoyed earlier consort music played by the highly skilled Fretwork ensemble and the slightly later chamber music repertory for this combination of instruments recorded by another fine English group, the Purcell Quartet. The Locke Consort would seem to fill a gap neatly between them. Like several other 'young' baroque music groups today, the Locke Consort is cross-bred with players from several different countries and yet, far from being at odds stylistically, they seem to play with common convictions about tone, articulation and phrasing.
They have chosen here music from three major sources of Locke's broken consort music: The Little Consort (1656), The Broken Consort (1660s) and the Tripla Concordia (1677). The B flat Suite from The Little Consort begins with a noble, old-fashioned Pavan, elegantly shaped by the Locke Consort who subtly hint at melancholy in the sighing figures, and ends with a spritely Sarabande, as do all but one of the five suites from
The Courantes, in particular, demonstrate Locke's breathtaking command of rhythmic variety and subtlety; the Locke Consort bring them to life, conjuring images of period dancers, so accurate is their projection of the lift and lilt of the dance. The D major ''ecchos'' are very effective—so much so that one imagines the second violinist actually turning away from the microphone to play—and never in danger of being trivalized.
The combination of bass viol and theorbo with the forward-sounding violins creates a lovely blend of the old and new, in the seventeenth-century sense. The Locke Consort violins play sweetly and yet with decided verve, the continuo instrumentalists firm but at the same time highly sensitive. They belong in a class with Fretwork and the Purcell Quartet and I very much look forward to their future recordings.'