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The music makes abundantly clear how much he learnt from his 'ancient, & much reverenced Master', William Byrd. The depth and seriousness of such an anthem as O Lord, lett me knowe myne end speaks volumes for the composer's stature [listen -- track 1, 0:00-1:13]. It demonstrates also the sensitivity of the solo singing and admirable blend of the voices in ensemble. The consort music seems to have been designed mainly for the 'Three Choirs' area, where such grave and solemn music must have rejoiced many an accomplished household as in the grand sonorities of this Fantasia in six parts [listen -- track 19, 0:00-1:36]. That the Fretwork team of viols can be as nimble as they are expressive is shown in a six-part Galliard, that starts with all the friskiness of a new century [listen -- track 4, 0:00-0:58]. The disc title 'Above the Starrs' is part of the first line of a text attributed to Joseph Hall, a King James favourite created bishop of Norwich only to witness the eventual desecration of his Cathedral [listen -- track 11, 0:00-1:00]. Musically the disc is an unqualified delight, not only for the stately genius of Tomkins but for the ever-resourceful skill of the performers.

Copyright © 27 July 2003 Robert Anderson, London UK


Tomkins - Above the Starrs - Fretwork

HMU 907320 Stereo NEW RELEASE 73'31" 2003 harmonia mundi usa

Emma Kirkby, soprano; Catherine King, alto; Charles Daniels, tenor; Donald Greig, baritone; Richard Wistreich, Jonathan Arnold, basses;Fretwork: Richard Boothby, Richard Campbell, Wendy Gillespie, Julia Hodgson, William Hunt, Susanna Pell, viols

Thomas Tomkins: Verse Anthems and Consort Music: 'O Lord, lett me knowe myne end'; Fantasia a 6 (VdGS No 2); Pavan a 6; Galliard a 6; Fantasia a 3 (VdGS No 14); In Nomine a 3 (VdGS No 2); Ut re mi fa sol la a 4; 'Sing unto god'; Pavan a 4; Alman a 4; 'Above the starrs my saviour dwells'; Fantasia a 3 (VdGS No 10); Pavan a 5 (VdGS No 6); 'Woe is me' (from Songs, 1622); In Nomine a 3 (VdGS No 1); Fantasia a 6 (VdGS No 3); 'Thou art my king'; Fantasia a 3 (VdGS No 3); Fantasia a 6 (VdGS No 1); 'Rejoice, rejoice and singe'



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