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GRAMOPHONE (08/2016)
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Musica Ficta 

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Reviewer: Lindsay Kemp


Anthony Poole (c16291692) is an obscure composer, no doubt of that. The catalogue of his works runs to over 300 entries, yet precisely two of them appeared in print in his lifetime, and only a handful have appeared on disc to date. Listening to this first-ever release entirely devoted to him – a cross-section of his output for various combinations of one or two violins or viols and continuo – it would be hard to claim him as a forgotten genius, but they are sound enough and there is indeed a wistful pleasure to be had from them. Poole was a viol-playing Catholic from Derbyshire who left for Flanders as a boy to be educated by the Jesuits; after a spell in Rome he returned to the Low Countries to teach music in his old school, where most of this music was probably written.


The music reflects his travels, consisting of English-style ayrs and divisions (or variations), a French dance suite and even a bang-up-to-date Italianate violin sonata and ciaccona. Knowledge of the circumstances of Poole’s life, however, is enough to colour one’s listening with a pervading impression of an Englishman soaking up the musical benefits of his travels but also perhaps finding in music – sometimes cool, sometimes working up to a passion – a consolation for years of exile from a land where the viol was still respected. That biographical shading, however much it might be an imagined one, gives this music a gentle sympathetic pull equivalent to that of the music of soldier/viol player Tobias Hume.


Transports Publics give mellow and musical performances in accordance with this mood, varying the scoring with taste and imagination. The inclusion of virginals and hammer dulcimer (who even have a beautiful duet together) are especially happy choices, while Thomas Baeté’s bass viol and Annelies Decock’s violin have elegance and character. A touching encounter.


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