Weelkes Madrigals

A welcome return to disc for Anthony Rooley's The Consort of Musicke in repertoire they do so well

Author: 
Fabrice Fitch

Weelkes Madrigals

  • Madrigals of Five and Six Parts, Like two proud armies (6vv)
  • Madrigals of Five and Six Parts, O care thou wilt dispatch mee (5vv)
  • Madrigals of Five and Six Parts, Thule the period of cosmographie (6vv)
  • Madrigals of Five and Six Parts, What have the gods (6vv)
  • Alleluia, I heard a voice
  • Hosanna to the Son of David
  • Gloria in excelsis Deo (Sing my soul to God)
  • (The) Triumphs of Oriana, As Vesta was from Latmos (Weelkes)
  • Balletts and Madrigals to Five Voyces, with One to, Cease now delight: An elogie in remembrance of Lor(6vv)
  • Balletts and Madrigals to Five Voyces, with One to, Harke all ye lovely saints above (wds. ?B. Barne
  • All people clap your hands
  • O happy he
  • O how amiable are thy dwellings
  • O Jonathan, woe is me
  • When David heard
  • Ayres or Phantasticke Spirites for Three Voices, Death hath deprived me (A remembrance of my friend)
  • Noell, adew thou courts delight
  • Lord, to Thee I make my moan

Contemporary reports suggest that Thomas Weelkes was a troubled man, out of sympathy with his time, his tastes (by his own admission) 'untoucht with any other arts' than music. That instability is audible in his music, but so is the art that transcends it. This anthology might carry the subtitle of 'Weelkes's Greatest Hits': from Thule to When David heard, the best-known pieces are all here, and there is no better-rounded overview of his music than this: it allows one to hear familiar ideas and topics recur in different pieces.
For some pieces there exist perhaps more searching readings (specifically for Thule and O care one can turn to The Hilliard Ensemble's anthology), yet The Consort of Musick's lighter touch has considerable charm. They are perhaps at their best in the more light-hearted madrigals and canzonets such as As Vesta was from Latmos or Harke all ye lovely saints above, and in the songs of mourning they find many affecting touches. Only the slighter paraliturgical pieces (O happy he, Like two proud armies, All people clap your hands) fare less well when placed alongside the lengthier madrigals or the more emotionally-charged pieces, but that is probably a matter of programming. In just a few places a retake might have been in order (at the beginning of the Gloria, or in the rather thin-sounding Cease now delight) but all in all it is a pleasure to welcome The Consort of Musick's presence on a more visible platform than their discography has recently enjoyed.'

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