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Wildcat Viols’ Fairest Isle

Wildcat Viols team up with Catherine Webster for music of seventeenth-century England.

wildcat viols

Photo: Courtesy of Magnatune

Wildcat Viols.

The consort Wildcat Viols, an ensemble of three musicians well known in the Bay Area, was founded in 2003. They made their debut at the Berkeley Early Music Festival in 2004, then in 2006 made their first recording, which was released by Magnatune in 2011.

Entitled Fairest Isle, the CD comprises seventeenth-century English music, some of it specifically composed for violas da gamba, the rest arranged for them.

Variety on the CD is partly a result of the fact that viols come in many different sizes, and professional players are expected to play more than one size.  For example, the Pavan by Matthew Locke that you have been hearing is composed for treble, tenor and bass viols.

What a contrast there is in the sound of three bass viols in this piece of John Hingeston.

Henry Purcell is well represented on the recording in arrangements of his theatre music, for which the singer Catherine Webster joins the trio, Sonnatas of Three Parts, originally for 2 violins and continuo, and his three fantazias in three parts from 1680.  Here is a taste of Julie Jeffrey’s arrangement of the title track for the CD, from Henry Purcell’s King Arthur.

Fairest Isle
Wildcat Viols — Fairest Isle (Magnatune, 2011)
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album cover

Fairest Isle
Wildcat Viols — Fairest Isle (Magnatune, 2011)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Wendy Gillespie

Wendy Gillespie is Professor of Music, teaching early bowed strings and performance studies, at the Early Music Institute of the Jacobs School of Music, Bloomington, IN and President of the VdGSA. As a viola da gamba player, she has made more than 80 CDs and performed on five continents.

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