Nicolas de Grigny(1672-1703) Premier Livre d’orgue(1699) Ed. Jon Baxendale 234 pages • ISMN 979-0-706670-02-7 (Hardback) • 979-0-706670-28-7 (Wire) Lyrebird Music. LBMP–008
The 1690s saw the publication of two of the most important contributions to the literature of French organ music. François Couperin’s 1690 Pièces d’Orgue (new Lyrebird edition reviewed here) is the best known of the two, with its approachable musical style that owes much to the wider musical language of Paris at the time, notably operatic arias and dances. Nicolas de Grigny’s Premier Livre d’orgue (now available in this impressive new Lyrebird edition) was published in 1699, three years before his untimely death. In contrast to Couperin’s youthful offering, de Grigny’s music delves spiritual, emotional and musical depths that most other French organ composers of the period lacked. He is well-deserving of editor Jon Baxendale’s comment that he was the “most erudite of Grand siècle organ composers”.
New Worlds: Travelogue – Nicholas Lanier Academy of Ancient Music, Laurence Cummings Anna Dennis, Thomas Walker Milton Court & AAM LIVE stream. 18 February 2022
As part of their New Worlds series, the Academy of Ancient Music explored the life and times of the much-travelled lutenist, courtier and musical adventurer Nicholas Lanier in their Milton Hall and AAM LIVE streamed concert New Worlds | Travelogue. Lanier was from a French Huguenot family with an Italian mother. He was a court musician and composer to both King Charles I and Charles II, becoming the first Master of the King’s Music in 1625. He made several visits to Italy to acquire paintings for Charles I, during which he experienced the new style of Italian secondo pratica music from the likes of Claudio Monteverdi. He subsequently introduced the recitative style to England. He was painted by van Dyck in Antwerp and persuaded the King to bring Van Dyck to England.
Fantasie G. Ph. Telemann (1681-1767): 12 Fantasias for Flute Solo Joana Amorim, flute Veterum Musica, VM028. 55’26
Telemann published his 12 fantaisies à traversière sans basse (TWV 40:2–13) in Hamburg in 1732/3. It was one of a series of four sets of fantasias for unaccompanied instruments that he published between 1732/5: 36 for harpsichord and two sets of 12 each for violin and viola da gamba. This new recording from Veterum Musica features the Portuguese flautist Joana Amorim in an impressive interpretation of these delightful miniatures that feature practically every musical idiom of the period.
Jean-Philippe Rameau: Les Indes Galantes Ensemble OrQuesta, Marcio da Silva The Cockpit. 6 February 2022
This was French Baroque opera, but not as Rameau might have known it. Les Indes Galantes was first performed in 1735 in the form of a heroïque opéra-ballet, with elaborate dance movements dominating the vocal music. It would have involved a large orchestra, a substantial troupe of dancers, up to 21 solo singers, and spectacular staging and special effects that included, amongst other things, a storm at sea and a volcanic eruption. This delightful version, performed by Ensemble OrQuesta in the square black-box Cockpit Theatre had an ‘orchestra’ of just eight, including the director, Marcio da Silva and nine singers. The only real props were some long sticks, used in dance sequences and to delineate stage areas.
Jacob Regnart: Missa Christ ist erstanden with Missa Freu dich, du werthe Christenheit and motets Cinquecento Hyperion CDA68369. 64’45
Jacob Regnart (c1540-1599) is one of the lesser-known Flemish born composers who dominated European music during the 16th-century. Born in Douai, he soon moved to Prague, singing in the Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II’s Hofkapelle. His career remained within the Hapsburg realms, rising through the ranks under three successive Hapsburg rulers. He spent several years in Innsbruck in the court of Maximilian’s brother Archduke Ferdinand II, where much of his sacred music seems to have been composed, although it was not published until after his death. Those works include the two Mass settings included on this excellent recording from Cinquecento (Terry Wey, countertenor, Achim Schulz & Tore Tom Denys, tenors, Tim Scott Whiteley, baritone, and Ulfried Staber, bass).
See, See, the Word is incarnate Choral & Instrumental music by Gibbons, Tomkins & Weelkes The Chapel Choir of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, Newe Vialles, Orpheus Britannicus Vocal Consort, Andrew Arthur Resonus Classics RES10295. 70’51
The Chapel Choir of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, under the College’s Director of Music, Andrew Arthur, follow their previous recording of Buxtehude (reviewed here) with this exploration of some of the best-known music from the early decades of the 17th-century. This was the period when James I was on the throne of the two kingdoms of Scotland and England. Gibbons and Weelkes were both dead by the end of his reign (in 1625), but Tomkins (the first-born of the three) lived on until 1656 to witness, at considerable personal loss, the collapse of the Stuart dynasty and the Commonwealth.
This is the second recording of Buxtehude Trio Sonatas from Arcangelo (Sophie Gent, Jonathan Manson, Thomas Dunford and Jonathan Cohen). Their early Opus 1 disc is on ALPHA 367. The second set of Trio Sonatas was published in 1696. As with the first, it demonstrates the wide range of international influences in Lübeck at the time.
This is a very welcome new edition of François Couperin’s 1690 Pièces d’Orgue. It is a revised version of the edition published by Cantando Musikkforlag in 2018, but is now issued under the Lyrebird Music label. There are several improvements on the layout of the earlier version,. which remains the only commercially available critical edition. One of the problems with Couperin’s Pièces d’Orgue is that it was not printed, but published in manuscript form. There is only one surviving copy of that original manuscript, but four other sources of it, with varying degrees of accuracy. Editor Jon Baxendale has revisited the five known sources to discover which is the most accurate.
The Myth of Venice 16th-century music for cornetto & keyboards Gawain Glenton & Silas Wollston Delphian DCD34261. 61’50
In a very successful bit of promotional branding, medieval Venice built a perception of itself as La Serenissima (“the most serene”) and the successor of ancient Rome, with a similarly impressive range of foundation myths and ceremonials, that led historians to reference as the Myth of Venice. The myth was largely supported by its architecture, then as now a draw for visitors from around the world. This recording, The Myth of Venice explores the musical development of the Myth of Venice, exploring the 16th-century Venetian composers and performers who helped to put Venice on the musical map. Their starting point is Adrian Willaert’s arrival in 1527 on to the end of the century, with composers including Parabosco, Padovano, Merulo, Andrea Gabrieli, Bellavere, Ganassi and Bassano.
Andrew Benson-Wilson, organ &Poppy Walshaw, cello St Giles-in-the-Fields, London WC2H 8LG Friday 18 March, 1:15
This is a special concert for international Early Music Day, an annual celebration of early music that takes place around the time of the 21st March birthday of JS Bach. This concert is part of the weekly Music-at-Hill series of lunchtime Midtown Concerts in the beautiful church of St Giles-in-the-Fields, home of one of the most important historic organs in the country.
For those who came to this recital, despite the travel problems, the encore that I played was Thomas Tomkins: “Sad Paven for these distracted times” It seemed appropriate
“Upon thes nots“ Two 450th anniversaries – Thomas Tomkins & Michael Praetorius Andrew Benson-Wilson, organ St George’s, Hanover Square, London W1S 1FX 1 March 2022, 1:10
This recital contrasts the contrasting music of two composers born 600 miles apart, 450 years ago. It also reflects the way in which the two composers treat melodic lines, whether in the form of a powerful Lutheran hymn or the seven-note plainchant-based phrase upon which Tomkins based his monumental Offertory, noting in the opening bar that the piece was based “upon thes nots“.
Thomas Tomkins 1572–1656 “For Mr Arc[hdeacon] ThornBurgh” “Mr Thomas Tomkins offertorye” [upon thes nots] (1637) Michael Praetorius 1571-1621 O lux beata Trinitas (Hymnodia Sionia, 1611) Chorale Fantasia: Ein’ feste Burg ist unser Gott (Musæ Sioniæ VII, 1609)
Thomas Tomkins was organist of Worcester Cathedral until its closure during the Civil War as well as the Chapel Royal in London. Michael Praetorius was organist and Kapellmeister in the courts of the Duke of Wolfenbüttel and the Elector of Saxony in Dresden.
The concert is given on the Richards, Fowkes & Co organ in Handel’s church of St George’s Hanover Square as part of the Mayfair Organ Concerts series. Admission is free, with a retiring collection.
Handel: Messiah Burghclere Baroque, Theresa Caudle The Church of the Ascension, Burghclere. 22 December 20217 Revisions
However often professional musicians may appear on the national or international stage, for many of them, much of their musical activity is local, whether teaching or running their own musical events, concerts and festivals. One example is Burghclere Baroque, set up in 2020 by violinist/cornetist Theresa Caudle in her home village of Burghclere, on the Hampshire border just south of Newbury. Alongside Chamber Music and Orchestral Days, they also arrange concerts when current issues permit. Just about slipping in before the latest Covid stops such things, is this performance of Handel’s Messiah in the Church of the Ascension, Burghclere. Their invitation to the concert also invited people to attend their afternoon rehearsal, which is what I did. A formal review would not have been appropriate, so this is just a record of an event. And if you are local, and see this in time, you might manage to get to the 7pm start.
Réunion des goûts Ensemble Molière Heath Street Arts Heath Street Baptist Church and Livestream. 21 December 2021
Lully – Ouverture from Psyché Couperin – Sonade from L’Impériale, Les Nations Telemann – Quatuor No. 6 in E minor from Nouveaux quatuors en six suites Charpentier – Suites from Le Mariage Forcé Couperin – Chaconne ou Passacaille from La Françoise, Les Nations
The last concert in the 2021 series of the Heath Street Arts’ Tuesday Lunchtime Concerts (TLC) at Heath Street Baptist Church, Hampstead was given by Ensemble Molière under the title of Réunion des goûts. Sharing the stage with an enormous Christmas tree, their programme reflected the merging of French and Italian musical styles that had been pioneered by François Couperin and developed by Georg Philipp Telemann. It was initiated by Couperin in his L’Apothéose de Lully and Les Nations. Telemann continued the trend with his 1738 Nouveaux quatuors en six suites – the ‘Paris Quartets’.
Continuo Foundation A video resume of eight of the 2021 grant-aided projects
The Continuo Foundation (reviewed here) has published a whistle-stop video tour of eight of the 37 projects that were supported by their 2021 grants, with short extracts from the full concerts all of which were live-streamed on the OnJam platform. Tickets to watch the full films can be purchased until the end of January 2022 (links below). The ensembles featured are Joglaresa, The Mozartists, Ensemble Hesperi (pictured above), Boxwood & Brass, Consone Quartet, Palisander, Spiritato Baroque & The Marian Consort, and La Nuova Musica.
Monteverdi Vespers L’Arpeggiata, Christina Pluhar Tue 14 Dec 2021, Barbican Hall
Monteverdi’s monumental 1610 Vespro della Beata Vergine is now considered mainstream repertoire, but it was unusual to hear it performed alongside the inevitable sequence of Messiah’s in the run-up to Christmas. It was equally good that, amongst the current complicated Anglo-French relations, London could welcome the French group L’Arpeggiata and their founder/director Christina Pluhar. Current Covid and travel issues meant that they were rather more Anglo than usual, with several UK musicians drafted in at short notice to replace those unable to travel. The concert took place live on 14 December in the Barbican Hall, but was also available to stream live, which is how I saw the performance.
The Di Martinelli Collection Violin sonatas of the late 17th century Eva Saladin, violin Glossa Music GCD 922521. 69’07
This excellent debut recording from the Swiss-Dutch violinist Eva Saladin features a selection of pieces from a manuscript of 32 late 17th-century violin sonatas, dating from the years around 1690, found amongst the 65 manuscripts and 32 prints of the Di Martinelli Collection in the archives of the University of Leuven. The pieces are of various origins, with a focus on three regions, the Flemish-Netherlands, South German & the Habsburg regions, and Italy. The collection was put together by members of the Italian di Martinelli family, who had settled in present-day Belgium. These violin sonatas seem to be connected with the second generation di Martinelli, Guillelmus Carolus, a violinist and singing master based in Diest, in Brabant.
The Ghost in the Machine Emily Baines, recorders, Amyas First Hand Records FHR 113. 62’41
The launch concert on Wednesday 15 December has been cancelled. It will return in the New Year
It has long been the case that many ‘early music’ recordings and performances are preceded and supported by a considerable amount of research by the performers. This recording from Amyas is one particularly interesting example. It is based on 10 years of research by Emily Baines (culminating in her doctorate) into the evidence of 18th-century performance style found in mechanical musical instruments of the period, such as barrel organs and musical clocks with tiny organs inside them.
Johann Ludwig Krebs: Keyboard Works Vol 1 Steven Devine, harpsichord Resonus Classics RES10287. 72’0)
Partita in A minor, Krebs-WV 825 Fugues in C major, E major, F major, F minor, G major, and A minor, Krebs-WV 843/848 Concerto in G major “in Italiänischen Gusto”, Krebs-WV 821
Johann Ludwig Krebs (1713-1780) is another of those overlooked composers, despite there being a large amount of surviving music. He is probably best known as Bach’s favourite organ pupil, and the focus (reflected in the CD cover photo) of Bach’s comment Er ist der einzige Krebs in meinem Bache – “He is the only crayfish (Krebs) in my brook (Bach)”, a reference to Krebs’ ability as an organist, rather than being the only Krebs pupil as Bach also taught Krebs’ father. His music falls into a slightly awkward gap between the High Baroque style of late Bach and the new Galant and Classical styles that rendered much of ‘Old Bach’s’ music out of date.
Look, no Bass! Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment OAE Player from Thursday 25 November
The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment is a self-managed and democratic orchestra and gives its players considerable freedom to choose programmes and music. In their latest video offering on their OAE Player, Look, No Bass!, the OAE’s violinists present a programme of music for violins alone, highlighting the various textures and colours of their ubiquitous instrument. Their programme includes Telemann’s two Concerti for Four Violins, his programmatic Gulliver Suite Duo (from Der getreue Musikmeister), and arrangements by the OAE violinists of a Gabrieli Canzon and pieces by the English composers Matthew Locke and John Adson.
O Mirandum Mysterium Sacred works by Giovanni Legrenzi from the music archive of the Benedictine monastery in Marienberg in South Tyrol Capella Claudiana, Marian Polin Tiroler Landesmuseen. Musikmuseum 47, CD13046. 52’00
Although Giovanni Legrenzi (1626-1690) was well known in his own lifetime, he is one of those frequent composers whose name and music is almost unknown today. In Legrenzi’s case, he is probably only known through Bach’s youthfully flamboyant organ Fugue “on a theme of Legrenzi”, although this is either based on a lost Legrenzi work or one that is not a by Legrenzi at all. This compelling recording should help to bring him to the attention of a much wider audience. It is based on music by Legrenzi found in the remarkably wide-ranging musical archive of the remote Marienberg monastery in Vinschgau in the South Tyrol.
Stile Antico The Journey of the Mayflower Available free on YouTube until 28 November 2021
This is not a review, but an alert that the excellent vocal group Stile Antico have re-released their 2020 film, The Journey of the Mayflower, on theirYouTube channel. It is available free for one week until the end of 28 November 2021. In this music drama, Stile Antico explore the story of the Mayflower Pilgrims, alongside music of the period. The Mayflower Pilgrims were puritans who sailed from Plymouth in September 1620 to what would become New England, seeking a life free from religious persecution. Despite their confidence that God’s favour was with them, their journey was beset with difficulties. Their arrival also heralded an era of destruction for the native Wampanoag tribe.
The Albion Project Fretwork Gabriel Prokofiev, Nonclassical Kings Place, 12 November 2021
The Albion Project is an initiative from the viol consort Fretwork. They commissioned composers to arrange a wide range of significant works of British music for viol consort. This was performed in Hall 2 (a black box studio) of Kings Place as part of their 2021 London Unwrapped series of concerts. The new arrangements and remixes were performed with and together with a digital narrative from Gabriel Prokofiev (assisted by Blasio Kavuma), who linked and underlay Fretwork’s live music for five viols with extracts from live recordings, computer beats, loops, audio manipulation and various other technical wizardries. It was an attempt to answer the question – what is British identity, and what is that in music?
Society of Recorder Players/Moeck Solo Recorder Competition London International Festival of Early Music St. Margaret’s, Lee Terrace, Blackheath Friday 12th November 2021
It has been 30 years since the biennial Society of Recorder Players/Moeck Solo Recorder Competition (founded in 1985) linked with what is now the London International Festival of Early Music (LIFEM), a collaboration that incorporates the competition final and a recital by the winner at the following year’s festival. This year the venue was the fascinating church ofSt. Margaret’s, Lee, a simple early Victorian building in Early English style with spectacular interior decorations dating from the latter decades of the 19th-century. This church was a distinct improvement from the previous venue, as was the organisation of the event – an issue in previous competitions (see my review of the 2019 LIFEM here).
Pachelbel: Organ Works, Vol 1 Matthew Owens 1965 Frobenius Organ, The Queen’s College Chapel, Oxford Resonus RES10285. 71’03
In what promises to be a comprehensive survey of Johann Pachelbel’s organ music, Matthew Owens explores what is probably this enigmatic composer’s least appreciated genre. Pachelbel (1653-1706) was based in South Germany at a time when the famous North German organ school was at its height – he died a year before Buxtehude. His music has been overshadowed by his contemporaries in the northern cities, and this series of recordings should do much to rekindle knowledge of his specific musical style. It will hopefully put to rest his unfortunate post-1970s reputation as the composer of the famous Canon – a piece that is hardly ever performing in a style that Pachelbel would remotely recognise.
Key Notes Early European Keyboard Music Corina Marti Outhere/Ramee RAM 1916. 65’54
It is many decades since keyboard music was assumed by many to have started with Bach. This recording offers a chance to explore a little-known repertoire of music for organ and other instruments dating from the medieval period. The recording draws on manuscripts such as the Buxheimer Orgelbuch, Lochamer Liederbuch, Ileborgh Tablature, and the Montpellier, Robertsbridge, Las Huelgas, and Faenza codices. Many of the pieces are arrangements (or intabulations) of pre-existing music by, for example, Pierre des Molins, Giovanni da Firenze, Philippe de Vitry, Francesco Landini and Jacopo da Bologna. The instruments used are a metal-stringed clavisimbalum, a gut-stringed claviciterium, two portative organs and the 1730 organ in Nicolaikirche in Altenbruch in northern Germany which contains pipework from the original 1501 organ.
‘A New Created World’ Haydn: The Creation Academy of Ancient Music, Laurence Cummings, Nina Dunn Studio Barbican Hall. 28 Sep 2021, and online
After a successful series of AAM Live 2021 live-streamed Covid concerts, the Academy of Ancient Music returned to live performance with Haydn’s Creation, conducted in the Barbican Hall by Laurence Cummings, making his debut as the AAM’s new Music Director. Haydn’s joyous paean of praise to the Biblical creation story was a splendid way to open their post-lockdown “New Worlds” themed season. Their performance also featured inventive and elaborate video designs by Nina Dunn Studio, projected onto the wide wooden rear screen of the Barbican stage.
Edinburgh 1742: Barsanti & Handel Parte Seconda Ensemble Marsyas, Peter Whelan Colin Scobien, Elizabeth Kenny Linn CKD 626. 51’51
The Italian Francesco Barsanti (c1690-1775) arrived in London in 1723 and moved to Edinburgh in 1735 to join the Edinburgh Musical Society. This is a follow up to the 2017 recording by Ensemble Marsyas, CDK 587 (reviewed here), and completes Barsanti’s set of Op.3 Concerto grossi, together with four pieces from his Collection of Old Scots Tunes, both published in 1742. Barsanti’s connection with Handel is represented by the latter’s Overture to Atalanta, HWV 35, a piece in the possession of the Edinburgh Musical Society.
Song of Beasts Fantastic Creatures in Medieval Song Ensemble Dragma Ramée RAM 1901. 52’15
This is the musical equivalent of medieval bestiary, depicting in sound the animals and mythical beings that populate medieval manuscripts in a fascinating sequence of Italian and French ballate and madrigali from 14th and 15th century composers. Ensemble Dragma‘s CD is accompanied by a full-length film of illustrations from medieval manuscripts.
Two Voices is the debut recording from the soprano duo Fair Oriana (Angela Hicks & Penelope Appleyard). It is described as “a unique, diverse collection of beguiling chamber music from renaissance to baroque, with splashes of folk, medieval and contemporary influence along the way”. The pieces are divided into four volumes, exploring the sentiments of happiness in love, intrigue and teasing in love, passion, and the loss of love. As well as all twelve of Thomas Morley’s 1595 a capella ‘Canzonets to Two Voices’, there are other pieces drawn from Fair Oriana’s’ concert programmes together with specially commissioned pieces from contemporary composers Fraser Wilson and Owain Park.
Continuo Foundation “Preserving historical performance in the UK“
The Continuo Foundation was founded earlier this year, and was soon granted charitable status by the UK Charities Commission. Their Mission is “To support a flourishing historical performance sector, sustaining the careers of its virtuosic freelance musicians, creating opportunities for the next generation of artists entering the field and widening access to performances for communities across the UK“. They realised that, without support, the once-thriving UK historical performance sector could be permanently damaged by Covid restrictions. To that, I would add the devastating effect of a badly-negotiated Brexit deal that seems to have ignored the vital importance to musicians of easy travel within Europe. Their immediate aim was to help period instrument ensembles to remain active by developing Covid-safe projects as a way of creating employment for musicians. Their longer term aim is to “provide a new resource for connecting ensembles, musicians, audiences, and venues in order to grow the UK’s historical performance sector and preserve its celebrated tradition of excellence“.