PHANTASM, an award-winning consort of viols, was founded in 1994 by Laurence Dreyfus and has become recognised as the most exciting viol consort active on the world scene today.
The ensemble catapulted into international prominence when its debut CD of works by Henry Purcell won a Gramophone Award for the Best Baroque Instrumental Recording of 1997. Since then, the consort has travelled the world over, performing in festivals and on concert series in cities such as Prague, Tokyo, Istanbul, Helsinki and Washington DC. Recent engagements have included the Barcelona Early Music Festival, the Bergen International Festival, the Lufthansa Early Music Festival in London, Mazovia Baroque in Warsaw, the Stockholm Early Music Festival, Brussels’ Palais des Beaux Arts, Laus Polyphoniae Antwerp and Ghent’s De Bijloke hall.
A distinct emphasize of their repertoire lies in English music of the Renaissance and early Baroque - with composers such as Purcell, Byrd, Gibbons, Locke and Lawes, - but also Italian or French music for viols can be found in the programmes of the ensemble, as well as for instance Bach’s Kunst der Fuge or Mozart’s String Quartet arrangements of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier.
Their 19 recordings have also won consistent praise, and several have received awards, including a Gramophone Award in 2004 for the music of Orlando Gibbons, finalist for CD of the Year. Their first recording on the Scottish LINN label (named Gramophone’s Record Label of the Year in 2010) was devoted the consort works of the 17th-century composer John Ward and was Editor’s Choice in BBC Music Magazine as well as a finalist for the 2010 Gramophone Early Music Award. Their CD for Linn - the Complete Consort Music of William Byrd - was awarded a Diapason d’Or, CD of the Month by BBC Music Magazine, and was a Gramophone finalist for the best Early Music recording of 2011.
Lawes's Consorts to the Organ with Magdalen organist Daniel Hyde, was nominated for the annual Chamber Music Award in BBC Music Magazine, September 2012. Their most recent recording, Dowland's Lachrimae not only became the CD of the week in various broadcast stations all over Europe but also was on the first ranks of the UK specialist Classical Charts for several months.
Phantasm was based at the University of Oxford from 2005 when they were appointed Consort-in-Residence. In Autumn 2010, they began a new association as Consort-in-Residence at Magdalen College, where they performed, recorded, and collaborated with the acclaimed College Choir. Phantasm have been named Ensemble-in-Residence at the Wigmore Hall in London for the 2017-2018 season, where they also appear regularly in the years before, though.
Since the begin of 2016 the consort with its members from the USA, Britain and Finland has been based in Berlin, Germany.
SONUS about PHANTASM:
PHANTASM provides the (very!) palpable proof, that it is possible to enthuse listeners with the sounds of a viol-consort, who didn't even know what a gamba was, before they attended the concert.
Even if these audiences can't describe precisely, what it is, what so enthralls and fascinates them in PHANTASM's interpretations, they're nevertheless inevitably carried away by the purity of intonation, the perfectly shaped phrases and melodies and the extraordinary vitality of the ensemble. Just as, in fact, every experienced viol-specialist or critic; which is what accounts for the brilliant reviews, which these musicians receive worldwide.
In addition there's their wonderful homogenity as an ensemble - brilliantly clear and focused, but also soft and very vocal in sound, which makes the works PHANTASM perform extremely clear and lucid - nuanced by subtle dynamic shading. These are viol players, who speak to listeners in a direct and intuitive way.
Musical director Laurence Dreyfus, Professor of Music at Oxford, is keenly concerned with a scholarly and informed approach to musical history at the same time that his energy as a musician and human being also sparks the most spirited and inventive renditions.
William Lawes: Galliard (from: The Royal Consort, Sett 2) - live
John Dowland: Lacrimae Antiquae
John Ward: Fantasia No. 2 a6
William Lawes: Fantazy a6
William Byrd: Fantasia No. 1 a3 - live
John Ward: This is a joyful, happy holy day With the Choir of Magdalen College Oxford, direction: Daniel Hyde
Johann Sebastian Bach: Contrapunctus 9, from: Kunst der Fuge, BWV 1080