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Mixed Company is written by Saint Paul Sunday staff, giving you a behind-the-scenes look at the show and the classical music they love. We welcome your online comments.

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October 11, 2006

Fall Phantasy

As a member of the Saint Paul Sunday staff, I have the delightful task of auditioning the week's show before it's broadcast. This week's undertaking was to attend to a Phastasm. As the temperature dropped and the leaves changed color, I found myself thinking of the 70's horror film by the same name, now a cult classic. Having never heard the ensemble Phantasm's music before, I wondered if I was in for a scary ghost tale from our resident bard, Bill McGlaughlin. I powered up my CD player and put on my headphones prepared for anything. It was a splendid listening experience—more like a soundtrack to the French film Tous les matins du monde than a horror movie.

In this week's show, the English viol consort Phantasm resurrects Baroque and Renaissance music in performances of works that sound as fresh and new as contemporary masterpieces. That's the thing that strikes me most about Phantasm—its sound is both rhythmically and harmonically complex, more modern than medieval. So take a listen, and let Phantasm set the tone for your own autumn reverie.

Posted by Chris Danforth at October 11, 2006 4:15 AM



Wow! What an instrument and what wonderful talent and rapport between all 4 musicians in the consort!! I especially enjoyed the Jenkins and the wise feel of the Renaissance era he embodied. The Purcel challenged me a little to think outside my comfort zone and listen much more carefully. To think more
carefully,too-and this is good! Though I like the violin, the depth the viol produces makes me want to hear more. I want to order a Phantasm CD so I can enjoy this group repeatedly!

By Vinca K Renner at October 15, 2006 1:17 PM


The past two programs (Hampson and Phantasm) prove again why SPS is the most important music program in any medium today. Where else would we get 16th and 17th century European music one week, 18th and 19th century American music the next? This, combined with knowledgable discussions, makes SPS essential listening.

I consider myself a pretty sophisticated music fan, but I've never even heard of the viol, much less heard one played. And here we have a quartet!

Each of the past two program nicely encapsles a historical period long gone, nearly forgotten, and each would make a substantial contribution as a music lesson for high school students. Where else to get a better understanding of our country's lost agrarian past than in the songs of the period sung by Thomas Hampson?

As an addendum, I heard two trios this weekend:
The Beaux Arts Trio at Manhattan's Metropolitan Museum, and the Kavafian-Schub-Shifrin Trio, who came to town. My impression is that the BAT has lost some of its polish since its heyday twenty and thirty years ago. KSS played a wonderful trio by Bartok from 1938, Contrasts for Violin, Clarinet, and Piano. I recommend picking up any available recording of this.

John Niesyn
Fairfield, CT

By John Niesyn at October 16, 2006 4:06 PM