Author Topic: Early English Vocal Music  (Read 3710 times)

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Offline Mr. Minnow

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Re: Early English Vocal Music
« Reply #20 on: October 26, 2017, 11:03:26 AM »
This is an interesting one, music from a manuscript thought to have been copied c.1200 which has survived, albeit in a pretty poor state, only because its pages were used as flyleaves for another book: 




Samples and more detailed info here:

https://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/dc.asp?dc=D_CDH55297

Offline Mr. Minnow

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Re: Early English Vocal Music
« Reply #21 on: October 26, 2017, 03:37:40 PM »
Not sure if this is still available, as the Calliope label is apparently defunct, but it's well worth picking up if available at a reasonable price:



I hope the Ensemble Jachet de Mantoue are still around. They don't seem to have released a huge number of discs, but those they have released are excellent.


Offline Mandryka

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Re: Early English Vocal Music
« Reply #22 on: December 26, 2017, 02:22:12 PM »


John Eliot Gardiner's achievement here is significant. He has managed to create a sound which is coherent and yet often  a sense of the singers' individuality is not lost. And he's managed to give interpretations which are for the most part unusually prayerful and intimate.

Pride of place for me goes to Robert White's Lamentations. I think (but I'm not sure) Gardiner has transposed the music up, following in the footsteps of Robert Woolstan. But his performance is more my cup of tea than Woolstan's, with his rather impersonal blend and less than state of the art recording.  And I like others, most especially The Cardinall's music. But Gardiner's disarming intimacy is very winning.

(The detailed review of the recording in Gramophone criticises the Lamentations, saying that the soloists seemed unable to "shape their lines effectively" and that the performance is hesitant and tentative. I must say I can't hear this, maybe what he hears as tentative I hear as intimate and confidential, but I'm not a professional.)

Similar things could be said for Byrd's Ne Irascaris Domine - I can't remember enjoying this piece as much elsewhere in fact.

The only slight  disappointment for me was Thomas Tomkins's Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom - which didn't efface the memory of Jeremy Summerly's performance at all.

(Annoyingly the Gramophone review liked that one, calling it a "ravishing vignette")
« Last Edit: December 26, 2017, 02:31:29 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mr. Minnow

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Re: Early English Vocal Music
« Reply #23 on: December 28, 2017, 05:40:38 PM »


John Eliot Gardiner's achievement here is significant. He has managed to create a sound which is coherent and yet often  a sense of the singers' individuality is not lost. And he's managed to give interpretations which are for the most part unusually prayerful and intimate.

Pride of place for me goes to Robert White's Lamentations. I think (but I'm not sure) Gardiner has transposed the music up, following in the footsteps of Robert Woolstan. But his performance is more my cup of tea than Woolstan's, with his rather impersonal blend and less than state of the art recording.  And I like others, most especially The Cardinall's music. But Gardiner's disarming intimacy is very winning.

(The detailed review of the recording in Gramophone criticises the Lamentations, saying that the soloists seemed unable to "shape their lines effectively" and that the performance is hesitant and tentative. I must say I can't hear this, maybe what he hears as tentative I hear as intimate and confidential, but I'm not a professional.)

Similar things could be said for Byrd's Ne Irascaris Domine - I can't remember enjoying this piece as much elsewhere in fact.

The only slight  disappointment for me was Thomas Tomkins's Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom - which didn't efface the memory of Jeremy Summerly's performance at all.

(Annoyingly the Gramophone review liked that one, calling it a "ravishing vignette")

Interesting, thanks for this. The samples I heard sounded almost Baroque in places, and having thought that, I then came across a review from Johan van Veen - http://www.musica-dei-donum.org/cd_reviews/Hyperion_CDA68038_Linn_CKD447_SDG_720.html - which says the same thing. Van Veen clearly does not approve of this, indeed he's highly critical of the disc. What do you think of his criticism? Do you think it's untrue, or that there is some truth to it but Gardiner makes it work? As you clearly like this disc I'd be interested to hear your thoughts, having read a review from someone who has a very different view. I've only heard the samples, which is better than nothing but obviously nothing like hearing full pieces.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2017, 05:48:24 PM by Mr. Minnow »

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Early English Vocal Music
« Reply #24 on: December 28, 2017, 11:27:39 PM »
Here are some timings for the White Lamentations, which makes me think that Vreen hadn't put much time into that review. In fact, seeing the data like this maybe explains why I thought that Gallicantus was rushed.

Gallicantus - 17,04
Wulstan - 21,37
Nivel - 19, 52
Gardiner - 19,29
Tallis Scholars - 22,04
Cardinall's Musick - 20,08
Nordic Voices - 18,02

He may be right when he says that the sound lacks transparency and that it's sometimes hard to understand the words, it's a bit of a cliché comment that journalists often use when they have predisposition for smaller forces. But if Vreen is right I hadn't noticed and in the review he doesn't mention any examples in support. 

When you and Vreen say that the performances are too baroque, do you mean it's too expressive? I don't agree that it's too expressive, Renaissance music can be expressive (madrigalesque.) can't it, even English Renaissance music? I'm a bit at a loss to make sense of it. Anyway Gallicantus and Nordic Voices seem no less dramatic in the Lamentations than Gardiner to me! And I much prefer Gardiner's mode of expression to Gallicantus's (Gardiner's less operatic! More inward!)
« Last Edit: December 29, 2017, 12:10:10 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline San Antone

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Re: Early English Vocal Music
« Reply #25 on: December 29, 2017, 12:12:32 AM »
Here are some timings for the White Lamentations, which makes me think that Vreen hadn't put much time into that review. In fact, seeing the data like this maybe explains why I thought that Gallicantus was rushed.

Gallicantus - 17,04
Wulstan - 21,37
Nivel - 19, 52
Gardiner - 19,29
Tallis Scholars - 22,04
Cardinall's Musick - 20,08
Nordic Voices - 18,02

For me OVPP groups are usually quicker than choirs, especially if the choir were recorded in a church, i.e. a reverberant space.  I like Gardiner in Bach and haven't heard any pre-Baroque music from him other than his Pilgrimage series - which is irrelevant vis a vis the White music - and having not heard Gardiner's White recording I cannot make sense of your other comments.

Bottom line: Gallicantus does not sound rushed to me. 

Offline Mr. Minnow

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Re: Early English Vocal Music
« Reply #26 on: December 29, 2017, 06:00:47 AM »
Here are some timings for the White Lamentations, which makes me think that Vreen hadn't put much time into that review. In fact, seeing the data like this maybe explains why I thought that Gallicantus was rushed.

Gallicantus - 17,04
Wulstan - 21,37
Nivel - 19, 52
Gardiner - 19,29
Tallis Scholars - 22,04
Cardinall's Musick - 20,08
Nordic Voices - 18,02

He may be right when he says that the sound lacks transparency and that it's sometimes hard to understand the words, it's a bit of a cliché comment that journalists often use when they have predisposition for smaller forces. But if Vreen is right I hadn't noticed and in the review he doesn't mention any examples in support. 

When you and Vreen say that the performances are too baroque, do you mean it's too expressive? I don't agree that it's too expressive, Renaissance music can be expressive (madrigalesque.) can't it, even English Renaissance music? I'm a bit at a loss to make sense of it. Anyway Gallicantus and Nordic Voices seem no less dramatic in the Lamentations than Gardiner to me! And I much prefer Gardiner's mode of expression to Gallicantus's (Gardiner's less operatic! More inward!)


Thanks for the reply. I only have the samples to go on, which isn't much, but my impression of some of them - though certainly not all of them - was that they had the sort of much more overtly dramatic approach that is usually more associated with the Baroque rather than Renaissance polyphony. But that's just an impression based on samples, and I wouldn't claim that those samples are representative without hearing the whole disc. Of course Renaissance music can be expressive, very much so, but its expressive power seems to be of a different order to that of the Baroque. It's very hard to pin this sort of thing down; the only way I can think of to put it off the top of my head is that there is a restraint and austere quality to Renaissance polyphony, and paradoxically it's those qualities that can make it so powerfully expressive. The more dramatic approach of the Baroque is something quite different. I probably haven't put that particularly well, and no doubt there are all sorts of examples that don't fit in with this broad characterisation - as I said, this is just off the top of my head. But hopefully it gives at least some idea of what I meant by some samples sounding almost Baroque.     

Other reviews I've seen have mentioned that it's a more energetic and dramatic reading than most recordings of English Renaissance music as typified by the likes of the Tallis Scholars. I assume Van Veen had something like that in mind in his review. He says that Gardiner is not a specialist in this repertoire, which I take to mean that he thinks Gardiner has taken the sort of approach to performance he uses when recording Baroque music and simply applied it wholesale to this CD. I'm certainly tempted to get it, Van Veen notwithstanding, as it does sound like a different and potentially intriguing take on this music.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Early English Vocal Music
« Reply #27 on: December 29, 2017, 06:56:00 AM »
Yes, well I guess all this discussion, which does seem to have focused in on some interesting areas, suggests that the Gardiner CD is at least an interesting and challenging one! One that makes you think about these sort of things . . .
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Early English Vocal Musi
« Reply #28 on: December 30, 2017, 11:00:23 AM »
This is an interesting one, music from a manuscript thought to have been copied c.1200 which has survived, albeit in a pretty poor state, only because its pages were used as flyleaves for another book: 




Samples and more detailed info here:

https://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/dc.asp?dc=D_CDH55297

This is a recording which at first seemed  too austere, and I kind of cursed you for mentioning it, but I was wrong, and  I've found that it really does repay repeated listening, and becomes, in a strange sort of way, a bit addictive and rather beautiful. Thanks for pointing it out.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2017, 11:02:41 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mr. Minnow

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Re: Early English Vocal Musi
« Reply #29 on: January 01, 2018, 12:09:07 PM »
This is a recording which at first seemed  too austere, and I kind of cursed you for mentioning it, but I was wrong, and  I've found that it really does repay repeated listening, and becomes, in a strange sort of way, a bit addictive and rather beautiful. Thanks for pointing it out.

I'm glad you like it. I've yet to be disappointed by a Gothic Voices release. They also released a CD of English music of the 14th century:



Samples here: https://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/dc.asp?dc=D_CDH55364

Offline San Antone

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Re: Early English Vocal Musi
« Reply #30 on: January 01, 2018, 12:47:51 PM »


Good one.  I bought that one in 2016 along with most of Hyperion's early music catalog.

Offline Mr. Minnow

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Re: Early English Vocal Music
« Reply #31 on: January 01, 2018, 05:46:04 PM »
I haven't got round to playing it yet, but there's another Hyperion disc, released quite recently, which should be of great interest to anyone interested in this repertoire:



Samples and info here:  https://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/dc.asp?dc=D_CDA68132



A couple of previous Orlando Consort CDs of early English music:



Info:  http://www.medieval.org/emfaq/cds/amr59.htm






Info:  http://www.medieval.org/emfaq/cds/hmu7297.htm

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Early English Vocal Music
« Reply #32 on: January 02, 2018, 02:52:23 AM »
One of my favourite recordings of English music by Gothic Voices is Vol 4 of The spirits of England and France, the Missa Caput. As indeed is the subsequent volume in the same series with the Missa Veterem Hominem . I think that Catherine King is a great asset - I think it's her singing in the masses, but I can't be sure at the moment (I'm not at home.)

I've spent quite a bit of time with those English music recording by Orlando recently, though not the latest one yet. I'm not sure what I think.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2018, 05:10:04 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Early English Vocal Musicn a
« Reply #33 on: January 05, 2018, 07:23:56 AM »
   

I've started to listen to this live Christmas music CD from Blue Heron, it's worth hearing. I'll just mention one thing that got me thinking. It contains two mass movements from the Missa Ventrem Hominem, an anonymous C14 mass, and the contrast with Christopher Page's performance is really interesting. Scott Metcalfe is much much more sensual and expressive, they take 2 minutes longer in the Sanctus for example. It probably wouldn't be fair, but it's tempting nonetheless, to say that Gothic Voices are too preoccupied with energetic forward motion and the result is a relatively glib interpretation - I leave it to others to come to their defence. Page's sound is also more homogeneous, less of a sense of individuals, I'd say.  And the textures they create seem less contrasted.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2018, 07:36:38 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Early English Vocal Music
« Reply #34 on: January 06, 2018, 11:16:32 PM »








Info:  http://www.medieval.org/emfaq/cds/hmu7297.htm


I've spent quite a bit of time with those English music recording by Orlando recently, though not the latest one yet. I'm not sure what I think.

I'm now a bit clearer what I think of Call of the Phoenix.

The first thing to say is that the selection for the CD is fabulous and much of it not available elsewhere. I especially valued the religious music by John Bennet and the first anonymous piece called Stella Celi. But really the whole CD is a good listen. I'm glad to know it.

The performances are full of life, and it's interesting to look at how they give them life. My hypothesis is that Orlando Consort's idea is that English music of this period derives its tension from rhythm rather than harmony. It's not dissonances which draw our attention in the performances, it's the clear and changing rhythms. This inscisive rhythmic sensibility  is combined with a leaning towards relatively fast pulses and not much by way of expressive embellishment through dynamics or timbre. It was a contrast with Hilliard Ensemble mainly, where they've recorded the same music, which helped me to see this - The Plummer, Fry and the Dunstable are examples.

This is something which, I propose, Orlando Consort share with Gothic Voices. When I posted about Gothic Voices' Missa Ventrem Hominem I suggested that what they do misses a trick of two from the point of view of expression. And I believe that there's greater expressive possibilities in the music on Call of the Phoenix than Orlando Consort are open to. Nevertheless I don't want to be taken for believing that Hilliard's accounts are better, especially because some of them are on their final CD called Transeamus, and I have some reservations about this recording. I just propose that the Hilliard approach is different and shows a good deal of potential.

From this point of view it's a really interesting exercise to listen to three versions of Plummer's Anna Mater Matis - Orlando and the two from Hilliard, one on Transeamus (very late Hilliard) and one on  their Medieval English Music
 
« Last Edit: January 07, 2018, 01:34:47 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Early English Vocal Music
« Reply #35 on: January 09, 2018, 12:49:01 PM »


A warm and friendly, relaxing, recording of very early English music from Sequentia, very much in the style of Studio der Frühen Musik I think - without Andrea von Ramm's characterful voice of course. I'm thoroughly enjoying it.

(I'm annoyed to have missed them in Paris last year, but I just noticed that they'll be in Antwerp in Summer and I'd quite like to revisit that city, which I haven't seen for 20 years at least, so maybe . . . )
« Last Edit: January 09, 2018, 12:55:29 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Early English Vocal Music
« Reply #36 on: January 18, 2018, 10:48:28 AM »


This "Binchois Consort" recording of early C15 music is proving to be one of the most interesting of its kind that I know. At its heart is an anonymous mass (quem malignus spiritus)  which, I think, has not been recorded elsewhere. It's music of great nobility and interiority, I'm going to stick my neck out and say the mass is a real masterpiece.

Other polyphonic highlights include a couple of delightful isorhytmic motets by Nicholas Sturgeon and Thomas Damett - I know nothing else about these composers. But the mass is the star.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2018, 10:54:43 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Que

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Re: Early English Vocal Music
« Reply #37 on: January 18, 2018, 10:57:28 AM »

This "Binchois Consort" recording of early C15 music is proving to be one of the most interesting of its kind that I know. At its heart is an anonymous mass (quem malignus spiritus)  which, I think, has not been recorded elsewhere. It's music of great nobility and interiority, I'm going to stick my neck out and say the mass is a real masterpiece.

Other polyphonic highlights include a couple of delightful isorhytmic motets by Nicholas Sturgeon and Thomas Damett - I know nothing else about these composers. But the mass is the star.

I like it - absolutely great recording.  :)


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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Early English Vocal Music
« Reply #38 on: January 19, 2018, 11:20:56 PM »
   

There are, as far as I know, just two recordings of Leonal Power's cyclic mass Alma Redemptoris Mater - the one above from Trio Mediaeval and one on Hilliard Endemble's CD dedicated to Power's music. Hilliard's performance is forceful, and there's a feeling of power and stroppiness, like the music for the grail knights in the last act of Parsifal. I like this stroppy way of singing Power, its unexpected! Trio Mediaeval take it more slowly and are much more open to the sensual and expressive possibilities of the music. They're helped in this by a sparingly applied discrete vibrato which I think is effective. Their voices are balanced very well, and complement each other to produce a coherent sound without sacrificing individuality. THe combination of equal prominence of all the voices and more leisurely speeds brings out the contrapuntal cleverness of the music more clearly than Hilliard.  I like what Trio Mediaeval  do very much, they let me enjoy the scenery.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2018, 01:50:53 PM by Mandryka »
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kishnevi

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Re: Early English Vocal Music
« Reply #39 on: January 20, 2018, 01:14:49 PM »
The Hilliards recorded the Old Hall Manuscript, which includes three pieces by Power (about ten minutes worth).

There's apparently one other recording of the OHM