Fretwork (on original instruments), In Nomine

John Schaefer

By John Schaefer

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
This Early Music gem leaves nothing to fret about.

Fretwork is yet another of England's top-shelf Early Music groups. As the name implies, they're built around fretted instruments, especially the family of bowed strings known as viols — fretted cousins of the violin and cello. (The lute makes a couple of cameos as well.) In Nomine is a collection of 16th-century English music for the viol consort; with its silvery sheen and its independent but often intertwining parts, it was a favorite medium for composers of the day. Fretwork delivers lovely performances of music by well-known composers like William Byrd and John Taverner, and overlooked gems by Christopher Tye and both Alfonso Ferraboscos — the Italian-born composer/spy and his illegitimate but wholly English son. Also sprinkled throughout are the complete consort pieces of Thomas Tallis, which alone are worth the price of admission. This is a peculiarly English corner of the music world, and Fretwork are, as the Brits like to say, to the manor born.