John Jenkins: Fantasia-suites: III

The cover of Musica Britannica 104, John Jenkins Fantasy suites volume 3

Musica Britannica CIV
Transcribed and edited by Andrew Ashbee
Stainer and Bell, 2019 ISBN 978 0 85249 956 6
(ISSN 0590-2954; ISMN 979 0 2202 2545 1)
xxxvii (including three plates), 186pp. £105

This third volume of Ashbee’s edition of Jenkins’ fantasia-suites for treble, bass and organ includes the 17 entries in the Viola da Gamba Society’s Group I (comprising a fantasia, almain and ayre) and bothof their Group IV entries (where the sequence is fantasia, air, corant). There are four sources for the first group and five for the second and, with typical care and precision, the editor lists even the smallest variance between them.

I cannot recall ever hearing these pieces in performance. As Ashbee says in his introduction, the last two suites are entirely different in character from the first 17. For one thing, both of the string parts are far more technically demanding – the fantasy of no. 18, for example, has wide leaps and demisemiquaver (32nd note) scales as well as chords for the bass viol. The original organ part survives for only the first movement of these two suites, and even the figured bass that exists for the next three movements is lost for the final air and corant; Ashbee has done an excellent job in reconstructing them.

As usual with Musica Britannica, the book is itself thing of great beauty, printed on luxurious paper and handsomely bound. This is the sixth volume in the series devoted to Jenkins, and I am sure it will not be the last.

Brian Clark

The publisher’s website is HERE.