Jenkins: Complete four-part consort music

Fretwork
83:02 (2 CDs in a single jewel case)

THERE ARE 17 four-part fantasies by the English composer John Jenkins (1592-1678) and they really ought to be far better known! On the international stage, England is really all about Purcell, Elgar and Benjamin Britten… this is so unfair to a large number of composers whose music deserves recognition; Jenkins, “a very gentle and well bred gentleman” according to the writer Nigel North (with whose family he lived for eight years), is one such. There is a charm and an ease about these fantasies, a fluidity of texture and effortless of counterpoint which means one can listen for long periods of time without even being aware that one piece has ended and another begun; the four voices interact in a way that is at once inevitable and deeply satisfying. In the hands of performers of the quality of Fretwork, it is a relaxing and purifying experience; no one voice dominates the others, especially in the two four-part pavans which complete the programme. The recordings, which were made in 2016, are accompanied by an informative booklet and will surely prove popular with fans of Fretwork and John Jenkins – I sincerely hope, though, that they will also draw new admirers to this sublime music.
Brian Clark