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Welcome to Hyperion Records, an independent British classical label devoted to presenting high-quality recordings of music of all styles and from all periods from the twelfth century to the twenty-first.
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Finally a sojourn, long overdue, in the Elysian fields. This fantasy is the closest Lawes ever comes to the generous euphony of his elder contemporary John Jenkins (1592–1678). Still, Lawes can’t avoid revealing his more ragged personality at various junctures: the mixed-mode cadences in the wrong key (such as at 1:16–1:30), a cadence with a daring augmented sixth (2:15–2:24), and the trope of the conspicuous missing note (2:29–2:36). He seems to yearn for the sweetness of life in Jenkins’s musical universe, and outdoes even Jenkins in the depiction of warmth in which the music harmoniously bathes (3:23 to the end).
Equable spirits and good-natured high-jinks mark the opening material in this aire. The idea to move from B flat to the foreign destination of G minor/major was foreshadowed in the preceding fantasy but Lawes now uses the move for a strange kick in the teeth at the end of the A section. The B section heads even further away into the non-existent key of B flat minor (1:07–1:14) before the competitive interplay between the treble viols brings the aire to a close suspended in mid-air.
Still suffused with the glow of B flat major, this In Nomine expounds on holiness and awe, despite a nearly ceaseless commotion in the moving parts circling effortlessly around the plainchant. Had anyone dared to write a piece in this key before? Another foray into B flat minor (at 1:51–1:56) is a mere diversion before a sunny major cadence (1:59–2:01) followed by heavenly strands of interwoven voices graced by free organ counterpoint (2:01–2:56). One has the strong impression of weightlessness, a freedom from worry and doubt. Dramatic events occur with scant preparation (at 3:11–3:20), but they too fade once Lawes launches his most heartfelt peroration (3:42–4:15). Relieved of all cares, one sighs thankfully, with hushed silence the only apt response.