The lyra viol is a 17th-century instrument that, like the viola d’amore, has resonating strings inside the body of the instrument. It’s played between the knees like the bass viol, but is a little smaller. In many ways, however, the lyra viol is most similar to the lute. Like the lute, the lyra viol has a significant solo repertoire, and its music is notated in tablature. Tablature notates the location of the notes for the player, but not what those notes are. Given that the lyra viol often uses completely different tunings, using tablature makes performing music where each string might be different from the norm considerably easier.

Although he’s most well known for his music for viol consort, William Lawes wrote prolifically for the lyra viol. Richard Boothby here performs the entirety of the solo repertoire, most of which are dances – it’s a lushly warm performance of Almains, Sarabandes, and Corantos. Though Boothby’s playing is beautifully hypnotic, I’d have liked more bite to some of the faster dances. Lawes’ consort music is known for his startling use of dissonances and rhythmic shifts, which could have been exaggerated more.
On this disc, these works can come across as timid, which the consort music certainly is not.

A good collection then of rarely-performed Lawes, but it might be wiser to begin with the music for consort instead. 

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