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In contrast to the familiarly English style of William Byrd’s motets and consort songs, Henry Peacham observed of Peter Philips’s vocal music that it ‘affecteth altogether the Italian vein’. This stylistic difference was the result of these composers’ Roman Catholicism: Byrd stayed in England as a successful musician and avoided persecution through his powerful Catholic patrons; Philips left for the continent where he might, in his own words, ‘live after his conscience and to sie Italie where he had harde that there were excellent men of his facultie’. Philips’ madrigalian tendencies provide some surprising and affective moments. His fanfare-like word painting in ‘Ego sum panis’ and the plaintive chromaticism of his beautiful ‘Pavana & Galiarda Dolorosa’ establish him as worthy of comparison with Byrd.

The Rose Consort’s playing is precise and effortless. Phrasing is beautifully executed both on an individual level and as an ensemble but it is their interaction with Clare Wilkinson which dazzles here. Wilkinson’s subtle intonation, phrasing and tone allow her to blend at will with the consort. Her singing style, speech-like in its purity, together with period pronunciation of English and Latin lend moving weight to Byrd’s ‘With Lillies White’ and ‘Wretched Albinus’, two highlights of this recording. This is true harmonic oratory. Highly recommended.

Samuel Stadlen Read the full review on Agora Classica


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Early Music Today, 2015 - ©Rhinegold Publishing