Rondeau Mélancolique

Rondeau Mélancolique
László Rózsa, Jonathan Rees, Alex McCartney

Veterum Musica VM 017. 62’22

The CD notes open with a quote from Laurence Sterne’s ‘A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy’ (London, 1768): “Tis going, I own, like the Knight of the Woeful Countenance in quest of melancholy adventures. But I know not how it is, but I am never so perfectly conscious of the existence of a soul within me, as when I am entangled in them“. It helps to describe the mood of the music on the recording, which focusses on the more intimate, delicate and sensuous music of the often flamboyant and dramatic of the French Baroque courts from the time of Louix XIV onwards into the mid-17th-century. It was period of change for French music, as the influence of Italy slowly began to make itself felt, particularly after the death of Lully, whose dominance of the French music scene had stifled any imported musical ideas. Continue reading

Baroque at the Edge

Baroque at the Edge Festival
LSO St Lukes & St James Clerkenwell. 6 January 2018

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With a headline of “Imagine if Bach was a jazzman, Vivaldi a folk-fiddler, or Handel a minimalist…”, the new Baroque at the Edge festival launched itself onto the London musical scene. Headed up by Lindsay Kemp and Lucy Bending (the pair who for many years ran the London Festival of Baroque Music and its predecessor the Lufthansa Festival), the festival invited musicians from the classical, jazz, and folk world to “take the music of the Baroque and see where it leads”. They promised “No rules, no programme notes, no lectures: all you need to know is how to listen”. The Baroque at the Edge title was also given to the May 2017 LFBM festival, the last to be directed by Lindsay Kemp and managed by Lucy Bending – a nice link to their then unannounced new festival. The Baroque at the Edge festival included six concerts and a family event, spread over a three day weekend. After an opening Friday night piano recital, the Saturday (6 January) featured four events, starting with a lunchtime concert in the impressive late Georgian church of St James, Clerkenwell.

Continue reading

Kapsberger: Toccata/Touched

Alex McCartney: Toccata: Touched
Works by GG Kapsberger
Veterum Musica. VM015. 45’27

This recording is clearly something of a labour of love, albeit a rather short one, at just 45’27. Giovanni Girolamo Kapsberger (c1580-1651) was the son of an Austrian colonel, and was possibly born in Venice. He spent much of his musical life in the household of Cardinal Barberini in Rome (alongside Frescobaldi, amongst others) where he quickly built a reputation for virtuoso theorbo playing. To what extent his published theorbo pieces reflect his live performances is unclear, but they are sometimes frankly rather odd, not least with his unconventional use of rhythm and harmony. Contemporary commentators hinted strongly that his compositions were not as good as his performances.  Continue reading

Elizabeth’s Lutes

Elizabeth’s Lutes
Alex McCartney
Veterum Musica. 56’05

Elizabeth's Lutes cover artThe music on this recording reflects the music in and around Elizabeth I’s court. A keen lute player herself, at the height of her Golden Age, she employed some 70 musicians in her court. Rather surprisingly, the first piece is by Orlande de Lassus, Susanne un jour, somebody with no Elizabethan connection at all. But this became very popular throughout Europe, and is played here in a contemporary version found in the Matthew Holmes Manuscript in Cambridge University Library. Continue reading

Mésangeau’s Experiments

Mésangeau’s Experiments Alex McCartney
Veterum Musica

Suites in B flat, F minor and C.

René Mésangeau (fl 1567-1638) was one of the pioneers of what was to become the Baroque lute, not least through his experiments in lute tuning that led to the ‘standard’ Baroque lute tuning based around a D minor chord. After a time in Germany he returned to his native Paris and the Court of Louis XIII.  Three Suites are included on this CD, in B flat, F minor and C, the latter Suite including two movements by an anonymous composer. Each Suite opens with an unmeasured prelude following by groups of Allemendes and Courantes, finishing with Sarabands or a Chaconne. The playing is sensitive and musical (albeit with a fair bit of finger noise), the acoustic adding a nice resonance to the sound, particularly in the many pieces at low pitch. The sleeve notes are minimal, and there is no indication of track or total timings – something to watch out for if you want anybody to broadcast tracks.

Samples and ordering from http://veterummusica.bandcamp.com/album/m-sangeaus-experiments

[https://andrewbensonwilson.org/2015/03/31/mesangeaus-experiments/]