Dulwich: Circa 1616 recital -programme notes

Christ’s Chapel of Alleyn’s College of God’s Gift at Dulwich
400th Anniversary Concert
Sunday 10 July 2016

Circa 1616
A recital of music on the 1760 England/2009 Drake organ, given by

Andrew Benson-Wilson

Benjamin Cosyn – ‘Voluntary’ (c1620)
Orlando Gibbons – Fantazia in Foure Parts (c1611)
John Lugge – Voluntarie.3.pts.
Hieronymus Praetorius – Te lucis ante terminum (1611)
Girolamo Frescobaldi – Partite Sopra Folia (1616)
Jean Titelouze – Pange Lingua (1623)
Correa de Araujo – Tiento de medio registro de dos tiples (1626)
John Bull – Fantazia op de Fuga van M: Pietersn (1621)
Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck – Fantasia Cromatica a 4 (c1613)

In recognition of the 400th anniversary of consecration of Christ’s Chapel of Alleyn’s College of God’s Gift, this recital explores music from the years around 1616, an enormously productive period.

We start with three English pieces, including one that is probably by Benjamin Cosyn. He was organist of the Chapel of God’s Gift from 1622 (when the first organ was installed) to 1624, before moving to the Charterhouse where he remained until 1643, when organs were banned by Parliament. His Cosyn Virginal Book is an important collection of pieces by Orlando Gibbons, Bull, and Byrd. This untitled piece, in the form of a Voluntary, comes from a manuscript in Christ Church, Oxford, which also contains many pieces from Frescobaldi’s 1616 Toccate e Partite.

Orlando Gibbons exquisite Fantazia of foure parts was published around 1612 in Parthenia or Maydenhead of the first musicke that was printed. It was dedicated to Princess Elizabeth, only daughter of James I of England, on her betrothal to the Elector Palatine Frederick V. Their granddaughter founded the Hanoverian line of British monarchs.

John Lugge was one of the first English composers to compose for the two manual ‘Double’ organ. His Voluntarie.3.pts is one example, with its bass solos. He was organist at Exeter Cathedral from around 1602 until 1646, when Cromwell’s troops ended all music in the Cathedral. From 1608 he shared this post with Edward Gibbons, Orlando’s elder brother.

We now start a musical tour of the rest of Europe, starting with Hamburg and Hieronymus Praetorius’s powerful Hymnus: Te lucis ante terminum. Hieronymus Praetorius was organist of the Hamburg Jakobikirche, where much of the pipework of his organ still remains. He is an example of the thriving compositional style of the generation before the Sweelinck pupils, two of whom were Praetorius’s own sons. His music was influenced by the Italian polychoral style.

In Italy, Frescobaldi was building his enormous reputation that would influence keyboard music for 100 years or more. His first book of Toccatas was published in 1615, with a revised and enlarged edition following in 1616, including this Partite Sopra Folia. Despite the title, this is not based on the well-known Folia harmonic sequence, but on the related Fedele.

Jean Titelouze was the founder of the French organ school. Organist of Rouen Cathedral, his reconstruction of the organ there is one of the first examples of what was to become the French Classical organ. The hymn Pange Lingua is from his 1623 publication Hymnes de l’Eglise.

Francisca Correa de Araujo is one of the most important Spanish organ composers and theorists. Born in Seville, he was organist at the Cathedral until 1636, when he moved to Jaén Cathedral and then Segovia. The evocative Tiento de medio registro de dos tiples comes from his extensive Facultad organica of 1626. The title indicates that the piece is a fantasia for organ with divided keyboard (typical of Spanish organs of the time) with two treble voices.

John Bull was organist of Hereford Cathedral before being appointed to the Chapel Royal. He was the first professor of music at Gresham College. He moved to Antwerp in 1613, not for the religious reasons that he claimed, but after allegations of his “incontinence, fornication, adultery, and other grievous crimes”  that lead to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s famous comment that he was “as famous for marring of virginity as he is for fingering of organs”. His Fantazia op de Fuga van M: Pietersn is dated December1621, two months after Sweelinck’s death.

Sweelinck (the ‘Orpheus of Amsterdam’) is one the most famous organist composers of his generation. He was influenced by Italian, North German and English composers, including Bull.  The monumental Fantasia Cromatica is one of his finest works. It is a polyphonic tour de force, opening with a highly experimental example of triple invertible counterpoint.

Andrew Benson-Wilson specialises in the performance of early music, ranging from early 14th and 15th century manuscripts to late Classical composers.  His playing is informed by his experience of historic organs, an understanding of period performance techniques and by several internationally renowned teachers.  He is the only organist to have recorded the complete organ works of Thomas Tallis.  One of his two Tallis CDs, with plainchant verses sung by Chapelle du Roi (Signum label) was Gramophone Magazine’s ‘Record of the Month’.  The Organists’ Review commented that his “understanding of the historic organ is thorough, and the beautifully articulated, contoured result here is sufficient reason for hearing this disk.  He is a player of authority in this period of keyboard music.”
Andrew’s recitals have ranged from the enormous 1642 Festorgel organ in Klosterneburg Abbey and the famous 1562 Ebert organ in the Innsbruck Hofkirche, to a tiny 1668 chamber organ in a medieval castle in Croatia and the 1723 ‘Bach’ organ in Störmthall, Leipzig.  One reviewer wrote that his recital in London’s St John’s, Smith Square was “one of the most rewarding organ recitals heard in London in years, an enthralling experience”.
Andrew is also a regular writer on music topics.  His little book, The Performance of Early Organ Music (a gentle introduction to techniques of performance) is used as a required text in a number of Universities. He is also a music reviewer, formally writing for the specialist international magazine, Early Music Review and now reviewing on his own website: http://www.andrewbensonwilson.org.
Andrew’s next London concerts are in St Giles-in-the-Fields (29 July) with music by Samuel Wesley (b1766), and two recitals of music by Matthias Weckmann (b1616: a pupil of H Praetorius’s son) in St George’s, Hanover Sq (11 October) and the Grosvenor Chapel (1 November), all at 1pm. See www.organrecitals.com.

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