Phantasm offer a consistently illuminating approach to Locke’s eventful Fantasies.
Writing in the booklet, Laurence Dreyfus also draws attention to Locke’s ‘striking muscularity’ and also to his ‘purest lyricism and most … generous warmth’, dubbing his work ‘true music of consolation’. Changeable and abrupt though it may at first seem, it is certainly music that grows on you with repeated listenings.
Phantasm play with their customary expertise. Their combination of vibrant tone quality and strong rhythmic attack allows them to make the most of Locke’s mercurial musings, bringing lyrical gravity to the Fantasies and an exhilarating spring to the faster dances. A fairly close recording helps them in this, giving them at time the clarity and substance almost of a string quartet. By comparison the equally accomplished Fretwork have a thinner and less defined sound, and their performances are less consistent in offering moment-to-moment excitement. Their generally more subdued approach has power to charm … but for me it is Phantasm who tend to make more of this intriguing music.