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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Christopher Gibbons, Motets, Anthems, Fantasias & Voluntaries

When you are in the proper frame of mind and the music and performance is right, early music places you in an unfamiliar world, another time, musical forms and cultural values that you may know something of but have not had the primary experience of "being there".

The music of Christopher Gibbons (1615-1676) has that power to transport us, at least on the CD Motets, Anthems, Fantasias & Voluntaries (Harmonia Mundi), which is just coming out here in the States. It's The Academy of Ancient Music, The Choir of the AAM, Richard Egarr, director. They take great care in both the vocal and instrumental solos, the choir and the instrumental ensembles, to bring out the special qualities of music of England's post-Elizabethan period.

Christopher Gibbons, son of Orlando Gibbons, gets a kind of thumbnail portrait through a wide range of short works he wrote for various occasions. So you hear solo organ voluntaries (first recordings), choral motets, consorts of various instruments, and consorts with one or more vocal soloists.

Here is a valuable disk for anyone interested in this period of English early music. Christopher has been overshadowed by his more famous father and this music shows him fully deserving of our attention. The performances are excellent, the music very good, and if you close your eyes, you can put yourself for an hour out of the present and in a very different past.

An especially welcome addition for early music fans, musical Anglophiles, and the adventuresome-curious. Recommended.

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