Author Topic: English Renaissance and Baroque Instrumental Music  (Read 12042 times)

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Offline (: premont :)

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Re: English Renaissance and Baroque Instrumental Music
« Reply #80 on: March 14, 2017, 03:52:00 PM »


Alina Rotaru's vision of Byrd, Gibbons and Bull is angry. She pounds out the music in a one dimensional way, there's no emotional complexity here. Accents are forceful.  She likes to play fast. Rhythms are fairly rigid. It's thrilling but jejune.

Anyway that's my conclusion after two listens. I posted something like this yesterday but deleted it because I feared I may be doing her an injustice. But no. I hope someone will point out the error of my ways.

In fact I've come across this conception of English music before, in a live performance of Bull's Walsingham Variations by Leon Berben. Bull and Byrd had a lot to feel angry about - but did Gibbons?

She's playing some sort of German harpsichord I believe, I haven't found more details.

She plays a single manual German harpsichord by Thomas and Barbara Wolf 1995 after Christian Vater 1738.

I did not associate to "angry" when listening to it, but found the playing more straightforward and less charming than the playing on her Sweelinck and Froberger CDs. I shall relisten.
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Offline Jeffrey Smith

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Re: English Renaissance and Baroque Instrumental Music
« Reply #81 on: March 14, 2017, 06:56:09 PM »
I am finishing up a runthrough of the L'Oiseau Lyre Medieval/Renaissance set. It contains enough items of interest that it should warrant the attention of anyone interested in the period in general. But it warrants mention on this thread because a substantial number of the performances are English music through 1650 or so. About ten are instrumental, and another half dozen or so are vocal.
Mi Verry Joy (Songs of the 15th century) *
Holborne Pavans and Galliards **
A Musical Banquet **
Morley Ayres and Madrigals**
Wilbye First and Second Sets of Madrigals**
Corprario Funeral Tears and Consort Music**
Gibbons Madrigals and Motets **
Music from the Time of Elizabeth I ***
Byrd Consort Music **
Byrd My Lady Nevells Booke (selection)#
Cozens Lute Book •
Fitzwilliam Virginal Book (selection) (double CD)#
Lawes Setts for violins and division viols **
Maynard Twelve Wonders of the World **
Dowland First book of songs **
Dowland Lachrymae **
Jenkins Consort Music **

* Medieval Ensemble of London
** Consort of Music
***Academy of Ancient Music
• Anthony Rooley, lute
# Christopher​ Hogwood, keyboards​

The Byrd Music Consort and the Lawes are described as being "first international CD release", and of the rest, I think only the Dowland recordings are in general circulation.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2017, 07:01:22 PM by Jeffrey Smith »

Offline Mandryka

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Re: English Renaissance and Baroque Instrumental Music
« Reply #82 on: April 05, 2017, 09:19:37 AM »


Revisiting this recording of music by Peter Philips by Emer Buckley after experiencing Rubsam's Bach on Lautewerck has made me realise why this is such an important recording. I don't think I'm deluding myself. Emer Buckley has found a way of making the voices independent and a way of putting them in a responsive and lively relation. She's greatly aided in this by her harpsichord - I don't know what it is because I haven't kept the booklet - because the timbre of the lower notes seem noticeably distinct from that of the higher ones, like different registers almost.
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: English Renaissance and Baroque Instrumental Music
« Reply #83 on: April 13, 2017, 10:51:44 PM »


Paolo Pandolfo, here with Robert Smith, has invented a new way of playing gamba. Instead of making the notes sing forth, he grazes the strings with his bow to produce an encapsulated sound. The result is a music with more air, music which is more like a whispered conversation than an aria.

They use the new technique ubiquitously in this CD, which mostly consists of sets of variations.  It is the main tool in their expressive armoury.

The result is both fascinating and annoying. Fascinating because the music sounds like no one else and hence as a taste of some new things which can be done with English viol music it is a valuable new CD. But the annoying problem is that there isn't enough variety in the music to make the recording a rewarding experience in itself. If only they had combined the encapsulated bowing with more traditional cantabile playing to add expressive variety. It's easy for me to talk of course, maybe it's not possible to make the music cohere if you do that. 

In a way the Pandolfo bowing reminds me of Glen Gould's staccato piano touch, which he too maybe used too often and too exclusively. 
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: English Renaissance and Baroque Instrumental Music
« Reply #84 on: June 16, 2017, 07:23:05 AM »


Eureka! Found a recording of Lawes's consorts with  organ which makes the music sound a bit more interesting. Prefer this one by Music's Recreation to Phantasm and Fretwork in the same pieces.


I got to find out about Music's Recreation when I found a fabulous recording of a Rameau Suite on Tidal.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2017, 07:41:24 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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English Renaissance and Baroque Instrumental Music
« Reply #85 on: July 12, 2017, 07:07:19 AM »


John Toll plays Gibbons.

John Toll was a name unknown to me until a week ago when someone mentioned this recording dedicated to Gibbons' keyboard music. It turns out that he died young and was well appreciated as a continuo player.

The first thing to say is that John Toll could play harpsichord. That's to say he knows how to manage touch and voicing to create a variety of textures. And he could play little English organs too - registrations tasteful, never garish or dull or tiring; voicing clear at all times.

His style is very much in the Thurston Dart and Kenneth Gilbert  mould: move the music forward, make it thrilling and dramatic, play up the hummable tunes, minimise ornaments and agogics, keep it light and even playful, think about the big structure, make the pulse steady and clear.

There's no shortage of poetry of a sort though, at times attractively lyrical (Lord Salisbury's Pavan for example), and I think this is a valuable complement for Laurent Stewart's CD, and Richard Egarr's. It's attractive playing but somehow generic: what I want to say is that Stewart and Egarr give Gibbons a distinctive voice, but many of these pieces in the hands of Toll sound as though they could be by almost any old Englishman - Byrd, Tomkins, Faranaby . . . I'm sure some people will prefer it to the other two for the straightforward playfulness. Orlando Gibbons as a hearty plain speaking cockney cheeky chappy - John Bull or maybe John  Falstaff.

I don't go so far as to prefer it, but I am glad to have it.  Gibbons has not been well served on record and it's good to have this one. Good instruments and very well recorded.

The booklet contains a memoir of John Todd by John Holloway (enjoyer of good food and wine, big band jazz, the English countryside . . . ). The harpsichord is after a Ruckers and the organ is the one at Addington Hall (1693)
« Last Edit: July 12, 2017, 01:10:59 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: English Renaissance and Baroque Instrumental Music
« Reply #86 on: July 16, 2017, 12:39:07 PM »


Concordia, Lawes. The blend they make allows each instrument to show a strong character. Their approach to the polyphony helps in this respect too, because it's staggered to produce complex textures. All this makes the music sound not so lyrical, and from my perspective it greatly benefits from that. They tend to be inclined towards reflective / introspective performances rather than lively ones, again something which I very much like, one of the recordings which has helped me to see that Lawes may deserve his reputation after all. (It's taken a long time for me to fall in love with any music by Lawes, but that's been a question of finding a sympathetic approach I think.)
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: English Renaissance and Baroque Instrumental Music
« Reply #87 on: August 07, 2017, 07:48:57 AM »


Kenneth Gilbert plays Byrd, Bull, Tomkins, Gibbons etc at Lanvellec. This is wonderfully recorded and the (English) organ sounds just right in the music. Everyone who has an interest in old organs will enjoy hearing this CD.

And the performance is also very passionate - Gilbert here (as always) seems a bedfellow of Thurston Dart - the no nonsense and move it along vigorously school of music. But it's fine that way. More than fine, because it's so intelligently phrased.

Basically this is an aural joy from start to end. Anyone interested can pick up the CD easily here

http://www.skolvreizh.com/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage_images.tpl&product_id=23&category_id=10&vmcchk=1&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=3
« Last Edit: August 07, 2017, 07:52:26 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: English Renaissance and Baroque Instrumental Music
« Reply #88 on: August 09, 2017, 06:03:20 AM »


Aapo Hakinnen plays the Dowland/Byrd Pavan Lachrimae and other things.  It's one one the most imaginative, personal Byrd performances I know. Most of the things on this CD are well worth hearing. The harpsichord he uses, by Vito Trasuntino, may well allow for all sorts of enharmonic effects, I'm not sure. Anyway the tuning is audibly good, I suppose some sort of meantone. I think it makes a big difference to how interesting the music sounds. This could be the best Byrd harpsichord playing I've heard.
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: English Renaissance and Baroque Instrumental Music
« Reply #89 on: September 25, 2017, 07:41:48 AM »


Tilney at Knoll. I think this is tremendous, and a major contrast to what his contemporaries like Dart and Gilbert were making of English organ music. TIlney so much more contemplative and so much less about moving the music forward.
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: English Renaissance and Baroque Instrumental Music
« Reply #90 on: September 25, 2017, 07:45:04 AM »


Paolo Pandolfo, here with Robert Smith, has invented a new way of playing gamba. Instead of making the notes sing forth, he grazes the strings with his bow to produce an encapsulated sound. The result is a music with more air, music which is more like a whispered conversation than an aria.

They use the new technique ubiquitously in this CD, which mostly consists of sets of variations.  It is the main tool in their expressive armoury.

The result is both fascinating and annoying. Fascinating because the music sounds like no one else and hence as a taste of some new things which can be done with English viol music it is a valuable new CD. But the annoying problem is that there isn't enough variety in the music to make the recording a rewarding experience in itself. If only they had combined the encapsulated bowing with more traditional cantabile playing to add expressive variety. It's easy for me to talk of course, maybe it's not possible to make the music cohere if you do that. 

In a way the Pandolfo bowing reminds me of Glen Gould's staccato piano touch, which he too maybe used too often and too exclusively.

I'm quoting myself just to say that I've now fallen in love with this recording, whatever reservations I had in Spring don't matter in Autumn, it sounds wonderful, the music is outstanding, the performances committed.
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: English Renaissance and Baroque Instrumental Music
« Reply #91 on: September 30, 2017, 12:33:13 PM »


A life affirming and radiant version of Dowland's Lachrimae played by Phantasm. What is maybe most impressive is the silences, they have completely mastered their ideas about the articulation of the music. Lyrical, forward moving, joyful.

They play the music without interruption, with hardly any emotional difference between each Lachrimae. And there's a strong sense of forward motion. The result is that it's really is hard to know where one piece ends and another begins, it's the most integrated and coherent interpretation of the Lachrimae I know, one single piece of music, not seven.

In terms of the polyphony, the music is dominated by Lawrence Dreyfus's lyrical line, it's not that you can't hear the other voices, it's rather that they've balanced it in a way that the ear is strongly attracted to the top line. I am confident that the recording is truthful in this respect, because that's how they sound in the concert hall. Phantasm are melody and accompaniment merchants, not complex contrapuntalists.

Everyone must decide for themselves whether this conception is satisfying. Their  execution is impeccable. The  sound on the recording exceptional.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2017, 12:45:16 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline (: premont :)

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Re: English Renaissance and Baroque Instrumental Music
« Reply #92 on: September 30, 2017, 01:20:02 PM »

In terms of the polyphony, the music is dominated by Lawrence Dreyfus's lyrical line, it's not that you can't hear the other voices, it's rather that they've balanced it in a way that the ear is strongly attracted to the top line. I am confident that the recording is truthful in this respect, because that's how they sound in the concert hall. Phantasm are melody and accompaniment merchants, not complex contrapuntalists.


A pity, since the Lacrimae is complex contrapoint.

What would you think of AoF played in a similar way?
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: English Renaissance and Baroque Instrumental Music
« Reply #93 on: September 30, 2017, 01:41:33 PM »

What would you think of AoF played in a similar way?

Yes well I heard Phantasm play Art of Fugue in concert, and I was not satisfied.
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: English Renaissance and Baroque Instrumental Music
« Reply #94 on: September 30, 2017, 10:34:39 PM »


I just want to plug this general Gibbons recording, which I think is really satisfying. The (substantial) contribution from The Rose Consort of Viols is the best Gibbons consort playing I've heard; I am very much enjoying the emotional restraint and the virtuosity of Timothy Roberts on the harpsichord, he contributes very little unfortunately; the singing of Red Byrd and Tessa Bonner is by turns joyful, rousing, affecting, and their voices are characterful because of their regional British accents. This is a great CD, every home should have one.

Rose Consort of Viols has become a favourite viol consort.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2017, 02:16:35 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline (: premont :)

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Re: English Renaissance and Baroque Instrumental Music
« Reply #95 on: October 01, 2017, 01:53:34 AM »

Rose Consort of Viols has become a favourite viol consort.

Actually also mine since long. Their Lacrimae is unsurpassed.
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Offline milk

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Re: English Renaissance and Baroque Instrumental Music
« Reply #96 on: October 11, 2017, 03:17:57 AM »

I wonder if this is on anyone's radar. Sempe plays an interesting variety of instruments and English renaissance composers. I own a few recordings of English music but I've never deeply delved into it. Lately I've been much into earlier music, working my way back from Froberger to Frescobaldi. For some reason, Frescobaldi strikes me as more melancholic but I've been attracted to it.
What really sucked me in is the performance of John Bull's In Nomine, MB 9 on Cuiller (another Bull piece I like is "Chromatic Pavan: Queen Elizabet's" from Sempe). This is the most moving piece of music I've heard from this genre: dreamy, evocative, emotional... Is this English music MUCH less concerned with counterpoint than the Italian? The Virginal school was not about counterpoint so much? So, they didn't play virginals in Italy then?
« Last Edit: October 11, 2017, 03:26:56 AM by milk »

Offline Mandryka

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Re: English Renaissance and Baroque Instrumental Music
« Reply #97 on: October 11, 2017, 07:07:43 AM »
I don't believe that the English composers were less interested in counterpoint than the Italians. Have a listen to Byrd's Fantasias and Pavans and Galliards, of Farnaby's Fantasias.
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Offline milk

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Re: English Renaissance and Baroque Instrumental Music
« Reply #98 on: October 11, 2017, 02:22:44 PM »
I don't believe that the English composers were less interested in counterpoint than the Italians. Have a listen to Byrd's Fantasias and Pavans and Galliards, of Farnaby's Fantasias.
Yes, I don't mean counterpoint I think. There must be some clear technical difference between Frescobaldi and Byrd? Is it less fugal then? Byrd is really lovely. Often sentimental. Not severe. A pavan is a dance, right? Are Frescobaldi's partitas dances? It doesn't seem like it. Is it more religious? Both are interested in variations I guess. One thing I find very interesting is the instruments. The English virginals.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: English Renaissance and Baroque Instrumental Music
« Reply #99 on: October 12, 2017, 11:57:05 AM »
I haven't really looked into this much, but my feeling just from listening fairly informally is that Byrd's keyboard music never became as free and as expressive as Frescobaldi in Bk 2. But I'm a bit biased maybe because I love Bk 2.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 12:21:26 PM by Mandryka »
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