VOCAL group Gallicantus and The Rose Consort of Viols took their cue from York Early Music Festival’s theme Power and Politics, and their title from Thomas Tomkins’s Sad Pavan for these distracted times, composed a few days after the execution of Charles I. Their programme consisted of works by Royalist composers Tomkins and William Lawes.

John Bryan’s opening viol entry immediately transported us into a distant world whose master composers channelled social and political upheaval into works of outstanding beauty and emotional self-discipline, with abundant grandeur and sonic splendour, particularly in performances as persuasive as these.

Gallicantus are only six singers, all fine soloists. On this occasion, their ensemble and balance were almost faultless, their intonation sophisticated, their interaction engaging and instinctive, and their diction so good that there was no need for printed texts.

Countertenors David Allsopp and Mark Chambers have exactly the silky tone required, pure without being chaste. Bass William Gaunt’s range, and his steadiness in his deepest register, make him perfect for this repertoire.

They also gave the first British performance of Judith Bingham’s A Requiem for Mr William Lawes, which sets a prose lament on Lawes’s unfortunate demise. While the text seems at times prosaic (the word “mathematical” was distracting), the composition characterfully evokes Lawes’s idiom, and its inconclusive ending is an ellipsis suggesting continuing profound mourning.

The Rose Consort added two instrumental sets by Lawes; their substantial contribution – and David Pipe’s unostentatious chamber organ accompaniment –enhanced an enjoyable, thought-provoking concert.