Author Topic: Early English Vocal Music  (Read 15496 times)

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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Early English Vocal Music
« Reply #80 on: March 18, 2019, 03:51:52 AM »


Fayrfax (1464 – 1521) came from the generation before Taverner (1490 –1545)

The mass Tecum Principium in this recording is unbelievably contemplative. For someone with my tastes, it's just what I want from music, it's a magical piece of work. David Skinner in his essay for the CD says that the mass harks back to Ludford's style, but I feel that it takes off more than anything Ludford ever wrote. But it takes off in an inward direction, inside your soul rather than out towards the sun.

The piece ends with a Marian hymn (or something, Marian anyway -- passion almost). Andrew Carwood wrote a note about it for the CD where he highlights how the text is structured around memory, recollection, contemplation. I've put some of his phrases in bold.

Quote from: Andrew Carwood with my emphasis
A NOTE ON Maria plena virtute

So great was the devotion to Our Lady in pre-Reformation England that many texts were written in her honour, for Mary is the great allegory of the Church. She was present when the Church was born, that is when Christ died. Through her sorrow, as expressed in the Stations of the Cross for example, those in prayer can relate to the pain of the Passion and Crucifixion. She makes understandable the mystery of redemption through Christ's death and focuses human feeling in an accessible way. Votive antiphons produced in early Tudor England had various forms, but the setting Maria plena virtute seems exceptional. It is closer to a private musing on the matter of the Passion rather than a formal prayer to the Virgin. It begins in a predictable way with an invocation to Mary, but, after the opening trio and duet, moves swiftly to the Passion narrative, with a gentle swaying back and forth from narrative and personal interjection rather like the chorus in a play. Whilst contemplating the forgiveness for which he
so longs, the penitent is reminded of Christ's forgiveness on the Cross and so begins the first reference to St Luke's Gospel (23, w. 39-43). Then the focus is widened as the writer moves to the scene at the foot of the Cross when Christ commits the care of his mother to the beloved disciple (St John 19, w. 25-7). Here again the writer casts his mind back to the words from St Mark concerning the son of Man who comes not to be served but to serve (St Mark 10, v. 44). Then a jolt back to the present and St John, however not simply 'I thirst' as in the gospel narrative, but 'Sitio salutem genuis' (I thirst for the salvation of Man), which once again is the cue for personal musing before a movement to Matthew (27, v. 46) and back to John (19, v. 30). There is further drawing on scripture at the mention of the sword piercing Mary's heart (St Luke 2, v. 35) and the mission of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus (St John 19, vv. 38-42). The end of the work returns the attention to Mary and a glimmer of light given by the words 'regina caeli' (a Paschaltide reference to the Virgin). It is difficult to ascribe any particular season to votive antiphons, yet Maria plena virtute, with its concen-tration on the gospel passion narratives and its ironic reference to 'regina caeli', seems ideally suited to Holy Week. This is an intensely personal devotion to which Fayrfax has responded in a most personal style. There is little melismatic writing compared with his contempo-raries; indeed the syllabic word setting in places seems more reminiscent of the Continent than England. 'Ora pro me', pleads the writer (not the usual 'ora pro nobis'), to which Fayrfax responds with remarkable melodic and harmonic subtlety and with such care over the word setting, the like of which would not be a regular feature in English church music until later in the century. © 1995 Andrew Carwood

And this interiority is absolutely reflected in the performance style.

This is a revealing and coherent recording.

« Last Edit: March 18, 2019, 03:56:48 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Early English Vocal Music
« Reply #81 on: May 15, 2019, 07:45:13 AM »


This is a very fine CD. Initially I was a bit put off by Suzie Le Blanc's voice, which I thought was a bit Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews.) And while it's true that she does have a bit of that character, and that she's singing this music in a way which isn't too far from the way she might sing Schubert, she's very expressive and the timbre is very beautiful. A taste I had to acquire and now that I have, I'm glad that I did.

To be honest, the first time I heard her sing Tobias Hume's Cease Leaden Slumber, I was knocked out by the intensity and the eloquence of what she makes of the music. A moment I won't forget in a hurry, that.

(Although comparative listening can be unrewarding, I'll just comment for those that way inclined that Cease Leaden Slumber on the Tobias Hume Cds recorded on Naxos, with Paul Audet,  is a fascinating contrast from the vocal point of view. Chalk and cheese. )

The two viol players are in particularly fine fettle, I'll write something about what they do on this recording in the thread on English  instrumental music. It would be wrong to suggest that Le Blanc is the star -- they're all very starry!

It sounds great (especially through my new amp, a Krell KSA50 - maybe that's why I'm feeling so positive, and maybe why I like Le Blanc's timbre more now. All reviewers should mention the equipment they use because it makes such an enormous difference to what you hear -- that's fact not opinion.)
« Last Edit: May 15, 2019, 09:34:33 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Early English Vocal Music
« Reply #82 on: May 20, 2019, 11:20:45 AM »


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 . . . )

Revisiting this with a year’s more water under the bridge, it sounds like the best recording of Very Early English Music that I’ve ever heard, the way they use bowed instruments to support vocalists in monophony  is specially poignant: that’s quite an achievement because some of the songs for one singer are long and have a repetitive structure and you can’t understand the words. The  singers - women and men - all manage to make the words sound like meaningful, expressive poetry.
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Offline San Antone

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Re: Early English Vocal Music
« Reply #83 on: May 20, 2019, 12:08:24 PM »
Revisiting this with a year’s more water under the bridge, it sounds like the best recording of Very Early English Music that I’ve ever heard, the way they use bowed instruments to support vocalists in monophony  is specially poignant: that’s quite an achievement because some of the songs for one singer are long and have a repetitive structure and you can’t understand the words. The  singers - women and men - all manage to make the words sound like meaningful, expressive poetry.

Is Sequentia an all-female group?

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Early English Vocal Music
« Reply #84 on: May 20, 2019, 03:30:43 PM »
Is Sequentia an all-female group?

No, they’re not:

“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Early English Vocal Music
« Reply #85 on: June 03, 2019, 03:42:08 AM »
Can I just draw everyone’s attention to an absolutely drop dead gorgeous anonymous mass cycle here, Quem malignus spiritus.



There’s just too much music that’s worth hearing!
« Last Edit: June 03, 2019, 03:48:45 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Que

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Re: Early English Vocal Music
« Reply #86 on: June 03, 2019, 09:54:12 AM »
Can I just draw everyone’s attention to an absolutely drop dead gorgeous anonymous mass cycle here, Quem malignus spiritus.



There’s just too much music that’s worth hearing!

Love that recording.  :)

Q

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Early English Vocal Music
« Reply #87 on: June 03, 2019, 10:24:32 AM »
it was only when I played the cycle without interruption, without intervening motets etc, that I appreciated the quality of the music. And to think that it’s anonymous, the music that was being written in England at the time was amazing, no wonder it had such a big impact on the continent.

That inaugural lecture by Kirkman I posted somewhere alerted me to it, it’s well worth reading when you have the time.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2019, 10:26:22 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Early English Vocal Music
« Reply #88 on: June 03, 2019, 08:22:00 PM »
I’m not sure if all Frye’s known complete mass cycles have been recorded or not. I have managed to find the following:

Missa Nobilis et Pulchra - Binchois Consort, Cappella Cordina
Missa Flos Regalis - Clerks Group, Hilliard, Binchois Consort,
Missa Suma Trinitati - Binchois Consort, Ferrara Ensemble


Has anyone explored these masses? I wonder which are earlier, which are later. Are there extant unrecorded Frye mass cycles?
« Last Edit: June 05, 2019, 06:11:59 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Early English Vocal Music
« Reply #89 on: June 04, 2019, 07:59:16 AM »


I’ve rearranged the tracks to hear the Frye noble and beautiful mass Nobililis et Pulchra, I don’t know if it’s just my mood this rainy Tuesday afternoon, but the much of the music seems very melancholy and inward. Maybe he’s a psychological composer, using music to paint dark ineffable moods.  It certainly is disturbingly expressive. I’ve always found Frye’s church music challenging, not least this mass.

A  lot of the time it sounds as though they’ve put two singers on a voice, I wonder if there’s a way of doing it which would create more texture variety - there’s rhythm variety aplenty, but the textures sound a bit uniform. Maybe inevitable with three part music, maybe not.

In the booklet Kirkman and Philip Weller compare it to the anonymous Quem malignus spiritus mass I was listening to yesterday, but either my memory is completely fooling me or the similarities are so deep in the structure I missed them., I’ll check later.

Another thing,  from memory so maybe not accurate - this sounds different from the exuberant three voice Frye mass Summe Trinitate that Kirkman recorded, on A Marriage of England and Burgundy. I don’t just mean the mood, I mean the sound of the singers. I feel rather more attracted by the melancholy one at the moment!

« Last Edit: June 04, 2019, 08:01:25 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Que

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Re: Early English Vocal Music
« Reply #90 on: June 04, 2019, 08:54:16 PM »
I’m not sure if all Frye’s known complete mass cycles have been recorded or not. I have managed to find the following:

Missa Nobilis et Pulchra - Binchois Consort, Cappella Cordina
Missa Flos Regalis - Clerks Group, Hilliard, Binchois Consort,
Missa Suma Trinitati - Binchois Consort


Has anyone explored these masses? I wonder which are earlier, which are later. Are there extant unrecorded Frye mass cycles?

I share your interest in Frye.  :)

Recently I came across this:



Q

Offline San Antone

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Re: Early English Vocal Music
« Reply #91 on: June 04, 2019, 09:37:06 PM »
There's also this one by The Hilliard Ensemble, from 1993, I think.


Offline Mandryka

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Re: Early English Vocal Music
« Reply #92 on: June 05, 2019, 05:22:15 AM »
I’m not sure if all Frye’s known complete mass cycles have been recorded or not. I have managed to find the following:

Missa Nobilis et Pulchra - Binchois Consort, Cappella Cordina
Missa Flos Regalis - Clerks Group, Hilliard, Binchois Consort,
Missa Suma Trinitati - Binchois Consort


Has anyone explored these masses? I wonder which are earlier, which are later. Are there extant unrecorded Frye mass cycles?

And the Agnus Dei from the Flos Regalis mass here

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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Early English Vocal Music
« Reply #93 on: June 05, 2019, 06:11:12 AM »
I share your interest in Frye.  :)

Recently I came across this:



Q

Oh yes, I have it but hadn’t noticed that it says on the cover « Music of Walter Frye »

It has the Suma Trinitati mass, so I’ll amend the list. But even more interesting is the other mass which they’ve called  Sine Nomine. Does anyone know who wrote this? His English wiki just says. Maybe you or Premont has the booklet to check, I don’t.

Quote
Three masses have survived more or less complete: the Missa Flos Regalis (for four voices), Missa Nobilis et Pulchra (three voices), and the Missa Summe Trinitati (also for three voices).

Added - I see that the attribution is questioned here

http://www.medieval.org/emfaq/cds/mae20018.htm
« Last Edit: June 05, 2019, 06:20:04 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Early English Vocal Music
« Reply #94 on: June 24, 2019, 08:21:43 PM »


Come Sorrow, named after a song by Robert Jones, by Ensemble Près de votre oreille, formed especially for the recording.

Completely strapped to my seat by this one, gobsmacked. It comes out of the encounter with an Elizabethan edition which contains music for two voices, lute and viol as an ensemble. Once again we see that meticulous care about instruments is paying off, both the lute ans viol being designed to specifically meet the demands of the tablatures. As does meticulous care about making sense of the manuscript, which was, apparently, difficult to decipher.

The singers, male and female really contrast, the man rich like liquorice and the woman makes a noise which is like being showered with diamonds. The whole group work brilliantly together. The music is rare and rich, expressive.  Once you start to listen you can’t stop, you have been warned.

The violist, Robin Pharo, who spearheaded the initiative, was a student of Sigiswald Kuijken and is well known to me through a recording, a revealing and sensitive recording, of music by Charles Dollé. He also works with a quartet called Nevermind. He’s someone to watch.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2019, 12:04:44 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Early English Vocal Music
« Reply #95 on: July 27, 2019, 11:53:05 AM »


Successful Hilliard recording here, I can’t say much more than that it’s beautiful gentle singing articulated in a way which grabs your attention and excites your imagination even in monophonic incomprehensible songs a cappella. A mixture of sacred and secular music inspired by the idea that in England at that time the border between sacred and profane was porous in a way I don’t fully understand, but I bet it’s true!

This may well be the best (extremely) early English vocal music CD I know, given my expectations/values etc. Though I see I say that quite often - re Sequentia above. I’m clearly very fickle. I’m sure in some sort of logic there can be two bests.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2019, 12:07:16 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Early English Vocal Music
« Reply #96 on: August 11, 2019, 06:29:10 AM »
Eton Choir Book concert with Cappella Pratensis/Rebecca Stewart going for the taking here, it is everything you'd expect if you know their style from this time.

http://classicalmusicinconcert.blogspot.com/search/label/Cappella%20Pratensis
« Last Edit: August 11, 2019, 07:32:58 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Early English Vocal Music
« Reply #97 on: September 27, 2019, 07:37:24 AM »



Rees/Oxford Queens/Taverner Missa Tibi Trinitas. Can’t believe I’m back to mass cycles, but I am. And this is interesting for two reasons. First, it’s slow, meditative, and that's how I like it. This interpretation is that rare thing, the unification of flamboyant music and spiritual music, Les Goûts Réunis! And second, because of the extreme contrast between full massed choral sections and OVPP sections. The austerity of the OVPP singing seems to augment the glory of the big choral parts, so I’d say the approach has come off well. Rees, by the way, asserts in the booklet that this OVPP treatment is just what Taverner was expecting.

I don’t think I’d forgotten how wonderful a composer Taverner is, but it’s one thing to remember it, another thing to experience it again listening to the music.

Well recorded, but no sense of room - I think some people prefer that.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2019, 07:41:03 AM by Mandryka »
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