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Review: Music by Antony HOLBORNE.

The MHS Review 376 Vol. 10, No. 16 • 1986

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Allison Melville, Continuo (Summer 1986)


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Music by Antony HOLBORNE. The Extempore String Ensemble; G. Weigand, director.

The Extempore String Ensemble's re­cording of Antony Holborne's music is a joy from start to finish. The music comes from Holborne's opus of 1599 entitled "Pavans, Galliards, Almains and Other Short Aeirs;"the largest Engish collection of its kind to survive. Hol­borne, who died in 1602, was a player of wire-strung instruments (bandora, cittern and orpharion) whose abilities as a performer and composer were highly esteemed during his lifetime. The Extempore String Ensemble has the instrumental setup of a late six­teenth- or early seventeenth-century English professional band, to one of which Holborne probably belonged for some part of his life. They employ plucked and bowed strings: theorbo, bandora, lute, orpharion, cittern, triple harp and mandora, and violin and viols.

The dances chosen for this recording will be familiar to professional and most amateur recorder, viol and lute players, and the renditions should not be missed. The ensemble, led by George Weigand, revels in this music and the results are excellent. Their sense of ensemble is impeccable, indi­vidual playing is admirable, and their use of free divisions is marvellous. In­strumentation changes from piece to piece, notable colours being the version of "Heres Paternus Pavan" played "lyra way" on three viols, and the wire consort in the "Quadro Pavan and Gal liard." Instruments that were new in th very late sixteenth century are also heard; the triple harps, so named for its three sets of strings; the mandora, small treble lute; and the theorbo.

This ensemble has earned great a miration and respect for its special approach and devotion to this repertoire. An absolute must for everyone's early music record library--and after this, try the ESE's Dowland record.

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