John Jenkins: The Pleasing Slumber, Aires for a treble, lyra, bass and harpsichord


The third album from the small Flora label to be recommended on Expedition Audio is this program devoted entirely to the music of early baroque composer John Jenkins titled The Pleasing Slumber; it's subtitled Aires for a Treble, Lyra, Base and Harpsecord (sic). The performances are by Sophie Gent (violin), Romina Lischka (lyra and bass viol), François Guerrier (harpsichord & organ) and Philippe Pierlot (lyra viol & bass viol) who play in different combinations of two, three and four instruments.

John Jenkins (1592-1678) lived a long and productive life that saw many changes in English music. Dying at the age of eighty-six, his career overlapped those of William Byrd and Henry Purcell. His most illustrious near contemporaries included Henry Lawes, Jacob Praetorius, Heinrich Schütz and Girolamo Frescobaldi. He is cited for having refined the consort fantasia for viols, continuing the work of Gibbons and Copraria from the preceding generation. Consort music of this period often had a melancholy air to it and indeed, much of Jenkins' music on this album is quiet and somber. However, a good number of these pieces are actually rather jaunty. Differing in character, two are provided as samples - a buoyant Saraband and the title track for the album, an Aire titled The Pleasing Slumber.

If you're interested in exploring more music like this, some of the masters of the viol consort include John Dowland, Anthony Holborne and William Byrd from the early Baroque and Matthew Locke and Henry Purcell from a little later on.

Here's a Musica Pacifica video with the same instrumentation as is on this Flora CD