Richard Morrison in The Times today (26/5/17) has reviewed our latest release on Signum Classics, officially released at our Wigmore Hall concert with Simon Callow on 23rd June. And he's given it 5 stars.
Morisson says: "Like most Gough projects, this one treads a fine line between eccentricity and madness, but I loved it. And how exciting to hear viols playing virtuosic new music..."
The full review is here:
Fretwork have been shortlisted for a Royal Philharmonic Society award in the 'Chamber Music & Song' category. It's already a huge honour! The winner will be announced at the RPS Award ceremony on 9th May at The Brewery in the City of London.
Read more here:
Martin PEERSON A Treatie of Humane Love: Mottects or Grave Chamber Music I Fagiolini; Fretwork; James Johnstone (organ) Regent REGCD 497 72:53 mins
This premiere recording of Martin Peerson’s A Treatie of Humane Love (1630) is a deliciously serious foray into the soundscape of early Stuart intellectual and musical society. Peerson’s engaging settings of Sir Fulke Greville's lyric poetry explore the multifaceted nature of profane and sacred love. The rich complexity of the imagery in Greville’s Caelica, at times bewildering and unashamedly difficult, finds beauty and even whimsy within Peerson’s melodic compass. The importance of the collection, context and content requires some historical unpacking, which is beautifully executed by editor Richard Rastall and scholar Gavin Alexander - but the music stands alone and this a standout performance. Read More...
One fondly remembers all the wonderful discs that Fretwork recorded for Virgin in the 1990s, when it was the path-breaking viol consort that grew out of authentic thinking at that time. Finally, here was a sizeable compendium of English viola da gamba compositions from the likes of John Bull, William Byrd, William Lawes, Matthew Locke, Orlando Gibbons and Henry Purcell, all gathered together for one to enjoy in scholarly inspired form. Moreover, these were presented in such beautifully transparent and feeling lines, often allowing us to enter a suspended, ethereal world that we had seldom realized before. Even following the group through their intriguing explorations of Bach for Harmonia Mundi later on, it still remains difficult to believe that Fretwork is undertaking their 30th Anniversary Tour this year. Yet, so it is: this was their 11th stop on their travelogue of the Americas, which apparently went as far south as Columbia, as evidenced by their fully indigenous dance encore at the end. The concert’s central focus on In Nomine settings took us back to the group’s initial interests, and I think it was a more apt choice than their originally-planned ‘Fires of London’ programme. This experience was also enhanced significantly by the inclusion of related modern works by Nico Muhly (2015) and Gavin Bryars, the latter’s poetic settings finding a telling spiritual resonance when combining the viols with a children’s choir.
One of the fascinating, entirely coincidental, strands running through the 2015 Vale of Glamorgan Festival is a sense of how strongly – and how exquisitely – the old can resonate within the new. I don’t mean by the deliberate referencing of older styles, say, á la neo-classicism, or by a simple nostalgia for music of the past – although examples of both can no doubt be found amongst the many diverse pieces on offer this year. Rather, I’m talking about something which arises from deep yearning, and which can be heard in different ways in the music of the two featured composers, Arvo Pärt and Dobrinka Tabakova: that is, the search for an underlying or innermost creative source which ultimately transcends ideas of ‘old’ and ‘new’.
The viol consort Fretwork celebrated its 30th birthday on Friday with an evening of music representing the development of the ensemble’s repertoire across the years. The five current regular members were joined, to celebrate the occasion, by more than a dozen artists who had worked with them over the period – including other viol players, the singers Susan Bickley, Michael Chance and Charles Daniels, as well as lutenist Elizabeth Kenny, cornettist Gawain Glenton and organist Paul Nicholson.
A few words on two groups who deserve more: Stile Antico and Fretwork performed an immaculate Proms Chamber Music lunchtime concert of choral and viol music, from Byrd and Morley to Huw Watkins and Nico Muhly. “Sleep, fleshly birth” by the 17th-century composer Robert Ramsey, a raw meditation on death, made you glad to be alive to listen. For a Proms season that on paper looked potentially tame, 2016 is proving quite wild.
There is more to the BBC Proms’ tribute to Shakespeare in his 400th anniversary year than the familiar, heavyweight 19th-century concert works by Berlioz, Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev. The lunchtime concerts at Cadogan Hall are investigating rarer Shakespearean music on a smaller scale — old and new.
Monday’s programme by choral group Stile Antico and viol consort Fretwork offered both. Robert Johnson was a composer for the King’s Men, Shakespeare’s company, and his setting of “Full fathom five” from The Tempest was sung with exceptional purity by Stile Antico, 16 singers at maximum for this concert. Fretwork interspersed the choral numbers with some of the typically rich English viol pieces of the period by Byrd and Gibbons. The novelties came with two new works, Nico Muhly’s Gentle Sleep, a thoughtful setting of Henry IV’s meditation; and the longish poem The Phoenix and the Turtle, an unlikely choice but skilfully set by Huw Watkins. After nipping through the early verses, his music hits a memorably haunting vein of edgy, mournful harmonies at the close.