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The Flatt Consort, 'for my cousin Kemble', Suite No.1 in C Minor

Matthew Locke (1621/2-1677)

The Flatt Consort 'for my cousin Kemble' - Suite No.1 in C Minor

This work presents no less than three Fantazies, followed respectively, by a Courante, Sarabande and Jigg. Some of these movements are not always easy to listen to on first hearing despite a harmonic language that is more than pleasing and an approach to melody that is full of his testy, 'straight-between-the-eyes' with and character. The main stumbling-block with Locke - which also makes him so challenging to interpret - is that he exposes and develops his musical ideas in extremely concentrated bursts of energy. We're dealing here with a darting and mercurial spirit, someone who has little patience with more conventional notions of musical time and pacing. A phrase has been heard only a few times, passing from one viol to the next in imitation, when the composer decides to put a lid on the musical argument, and with a sharp and final sweep of the hand, dismisses it as out of the question. But no sooner has he done so than he pins another idea to the target and takes aim. One could easily charge Locke with being capricious were it not for his ability to bind his ideas into a satisfying whole. It also helps that he is a master at crafting grandiloquent closing gestures, and who cannot forgive a composer who can assert so definitively that a wonderful piece of music is complete. With a flourish, he seems to say "thank you and goodnight - Matthew Locke was here".

Laurence Dreyfus

Martin Ross


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