Thursday, January 3, 2013

More Music from the Tudor Era--and Beyond!

I just can't keep up with all the groups exploring and performing the music of the Tudor era! It seems that every new release I find exemplifies the religious conflicts of that dynasty, with composers like the Catholic William Byrd, who attempted to maintain their career and their faith or like John Merbercke, who stopped composing Catholic church music because he became a Protestant, even arrested in March of 1543 for "having written against the Mass" according to the CD booklet from The Byrd Ensemble's recording of music from the Peterhouse Partbooks, "Our Lady", which I've been listening to often this Christmas season:

Now the December issue of BBC Music Magazine contains an advert for a recording by The Marian Consort, An Emerald in a Work of Gold: Music from the Dow Partbooks, with music by Byrd, Thomas Tallis, Robert Parsons, etc:

For their second Delphian recording, The Marian Consort have leaved through the beautifully scripted pages of the partbooks compiled at the close of the sixteenth century by the Elizabethan scholar Robert Dow, to present a sequence of some of their brightest jewels. Sumptuous motets, melancholy consort songs and intricate, harmonically daring viol fantasies are seamlessly interwoven, all brought to life by seven voices and the robust plangency of the Rose consort of Viols in the chapel of All souls College, Oxford – where Dow himself was once a Fellow.
  • William Mundy Sive Vigilem
  • Nicholas Strogers A doleful deadly pang, In Nomine a 5 No. 2, Non me vincat, Deus meus
  • (?) Robert Mallory Miserere a 5
  • Nathaniel Giles Vestigia mea dirige
  • Robert White In Nomine a 5, Justus es, Domine
  • William Byrd O Lord, how vain, La verginella
  • Christopher Tye In Nomine ['Follow me']
  • Thomas Tallis O salutaris hostia
  • Robert Parsons Retribue servo tuo, Ave Maria
  • Anon. Come, Holy Ghost
  • Vincenzo Ruffo La Gamba
  • Anon. ['Roose'] Dum transisset Sabbatum
  • Jean Maillard Ascendo ad Patrem meum
  • (?) Philippe Verdelot Madonna somm’acorto
  • Philip van Wilder Je file quand Dieu me donne de quoy, Pour vous aymer j’ay mis toute ma cure
According to their website, The Marian Consort:

Taking its name from the Blessed Virgin Mary, a popular focus of religious devotion in the sacred music of all ages, The Marian Consort was formed at Oxford in 2007 to explore the repertoire of the Renaissance and early Baroque, combining academic insight with the highest levels of performance practice.

Then I go to the website for Delphian Records in Scotland and see this recording from the Choir of Caius and Gonville College:

The Choir of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge explores the fascinating relationship between 16th- and early 20th century music as understood by the pioneers of the Tudor revival in England. Centred on Byrd’s Mass for Five Voices – revelatory and inspirational listening for a whole host of composers – this mosaic of reworkings, reimaginings and lovingly-crafted homages is brought to life with all the scholarly acumen and full-throated fervour that are the hallmarks of one of Britain’s finest choirs.

Caius College Choir is one of the UK's leading collegiate choirs. Its members are almost all undergraduates of the College who have been elected into Choral Exhibitions. The twenty-three singers and two organ scholars, under the direction of Dr Geoffrey Webber, perform a wide range of sacred and secular choral music ranging from the fourteenth century to the present day, and have developed a niche for reviving neglected repertoires.
Track listing
1. Ralph Vaughan Williams: Whitsunday Hymn (1930)
2. William Harris: Eternal Ruler (1930)
3. Gustav Holst: Man born to toil (1927)
4. Thomas Tallis arr. M. & G. Shaw: Funeral Music (1915)
5. Percy Whitlock: O living Bread, who once didst die (1930)
6. Gerald Finzi: Up to those bright and gladsome hills (1925)
7-11. William Byrd: Mass for Five Voices
12. William Byrd arr. J.E. Borland: Fantasia in C (1907)
13. Benjamin Britten: A Hymn to the Virgin (1930)
14. Herbert Howells: Haec dies (1918)
15. Robert Pearsall: Tu es Petrus (1854)
16. Arnold Bax: Lord, thou hast told us (1931)
17. Herbert Howells: Master Tallis’s Testament (1940)

Nicholas Kenyon noted in The Observer last year:

As concept albums go this is interesting, juxtaposing William Byrd's great five-part mass with a range of 20th-century British works that draw on Tudor sources. There are fairly straight arrangements, like the version of Tallis's "third tune" that Vaughan Williams also used, and the William Harris anthem Eternal Ruler using a magnificent Orlando Gibbons melody. A lovely Robert Pearsall anthem from the 1840s is the bridge to the world of Howells, Bax, Holst and Finzi, where the prize is taken by Britten's little teenage masterpiece, A Hymn to the Virgin. The later works feel more idiomatically sung than the Byrd, which is too ample, but the sonorously rich sound of the recording will appeal to all choral music enthusiasts.

Both are interesting albums, and both are available from as MP3 downloads only.

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