Chelys Consort of Viols: Amavi, Music for Viols and Voices

We keep writing this is as Cheryl’s Consort, so apologies if we slip; the album was actually recorded jointly with Fieri Consort and is work by Michael East, who sounds modern but died in 1648, before the (20th century) name Cheryl was even invented.

East (or Easte, Est, Este) was an English organist and composer, a nephew of London music publisher Thomas East, which presumably helped getting his work out. East almost has a local connection, too; he was employed by Lichfield Cathedral for many years.

His most highly regarded works are his five-part fantasies for viols. Thurston Dart (a more modern professor of music at King’s College London) apparently said: “Despite some slipshod part-writing, they are among the best five-part consorts of the time,” which is the kind of praise we appreciate.

This is very nice, if you like liturgical music that reeks of the centuries. There’s a definite air of listening in a holy space, motes of dust in the air and the smell of furniture polish, reminders of death all around. If like us you find that calming, this is for you.

The sleeve notes are thorough, and if you wanted you could probably work out a chronology; the work is mostly from his fourth book, say the notes. But it’s just an album to listen to, and appreciate.
The closing piece is by Jill Jarman, who talks about the music being timeless but in constant motion. The album features eight fantasias for five viols, with added anthems and madrigals.
The playing and singing is all good.

The Fieri Consort was established in 2012 and specialises in singing with early instruments, Chelys perform faithful interpretations of the consort (ensemble) repertoire. This is out BIS, 2503. It’s a SACD – Super Audio CD.

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