JEFFREYS 'Lost Majesty - Sacred Songs and Anthems'

Lost Majesty - Sacred Songs and Anthems
Solomon's Knot
Prospero Classical PROSP0086

If you have ever stopped to wonder about that awkward musical gap between William Byrd and Henry Purcell in traditional music history books, then this double album will open your ears to the early arrival of new Italian styles in England during the Civil War. Formed from the happy union of Jonathan Wainwright’s new volume for Musica Britannica and the passion of organist William Whitehead, early music specialists Solomon’s Knot tap into an extraordinary forgotten composer, George Jeffreys (c1610-1685), and the results are absolutely fascinating. […]

The headline piece here is In the midst of life, a funeral text set by Jeffreys during his own life-threatening illness. This is bold music that conjures strange harmonies and ends with a minor-key alleluia, and it is sung with sensitivity and confidence. Similarly, The Lord in thy adversity, a paraphrase by George Sandys of Psalm 20, strikes a delicious balance between fragility and sure-footed navigation of multiple harmonic twists. Listen for the delicate opening and delightful word-painting on ‘perfume’: this is highly nuanced music, for sure, but Solomon’s Knot clearly have the measure of it. […]

I’m apt to agree with the marketing copy that this recording will ‘undoubtedly show that [Jeffreys] is the great “forgotten” composer of the English 17th century’. Certainly these excellent performances will help.

For the full text of this review please click here: Gramophone April 2024


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