The Mysterious Motet Book of 1539
Siglo de Oro, Patrick Allies
Delphian DCD34284. 67’14
The Mysterious Motet Book of 1539 of the title refers to a collection of sacred music assembled by the choirmaster of Milan Cathedral and sent, for reasons that are unclear, to Peter Schöffer, a Protestant publisher in Strasbourg. They were published in 1539 as Cantiones quinque vocum selectissimae. One of the mysteries is why such strongly Catholic music should be published in the equally strongly Protestant Strasbourg? In a collaboration with Cambridge University researcher Dr Daniel Trocmé-Latter, Siglo de Oro has selected 12 of the 38 Latin motets from the collection. These include pieces by Arcadelt, Willaert, and Gombert together with some lesser-known (or, indeed, completely unknown) composers such as Johannes Sarton.
Concertos & Pastorales for Christmas Night
Bojan Čičić & The Illyria Consort
Delphian DCD34278. 65’52
Vivaldi Concerto RV 104 ‘La notte’;
Concerto for Strings RV 270a ‘Il riposo -per il santissimo Natalé
Biber Sonata ‘Pastrorella’
Pavel Joseph Vejvanoský Sonata Laetitiae
Johann Rauch Sonata No X ‘Pastorella’
Anon Sonate ‘Wie schön leuchtet die Morgenstern’;
Anon Sonate ‘Musikalisch Uhrwerk’;
Gottfried Finger Pastoralle
Johann Schmelzer Sonata a 3 ‘Pastorale’
This delightful recording from Bojan Čičić and his The Illyria Consort explores the musical Christmas traditions in 17th-century Catholic Europe, notably Italy and the Hapsburg domains of Austria, Moravia, and Bohemia. This was a period when ‘rustic’ effects were introduced into Christmas instrumental music, usually reflecting the shepherds watching their flocks in the fields at night. And night is where the recording starts, with Vivaldi’s multisectional La notte Concerto (RV 104) – not obviously a Christmas piece, but a nice start to the festivities.
Johann Jakob Walther: Scherzi da violino
Bojan Čičić, Illyria Consort
Delphian DCD34294. 2 CDs. 51’00 + 49’48
Bojan Čičić and his Illyria Consort continue their exploration of the lesser-known corners of the often virtuosic violin repertoire of the 17th and 18th centuries, this time focussing on Johann Jakob Walther (1650-1717). His Scherzi da violino solo con il basso continuo per l’organo ò cimbalo, accompagnabile anche con una viola ò leuto, was published in 1676 and this double CD includes all 12 Scherzi, several in first recordings. This little-known composer is a generation before JS Bach’s cousin, Johann Gottfried Walther, and is not related. However, it is the latter’s 1732 Lexicon that gives us the limited information that survives on Johann Jakob. He spent three years in Florence before becoming leader of the Dresden court orchestra, finally ending up in Mainz. A writer in the 19th-century referred to him as the “Paganini of his age”, and this recording shows why.
: Fire & Fury from 18th-century Italy
Bojan Čičić and The Illyria Consort
Delphian DCD34249. 72’52
Vivaldi: Violin Concerto in D, RV205 “fatto per Maestro Pisendel“
Vivaldi: Violin Concerto in D, RV213a “per Signora Anna Maria“
Tartini: Violin Concerto in E, D 48 “Rondinella vaga e bella“
Locatelli: Violin Concerto in D, Op3/12 “Il laberinto armonico“
‘Fireworks’ is a term often used to describe virtuosic playing or advanced musical textures but in this case, the connection with the word is real. This CD from violinist Bojan Čičić and his Illyria Consort gets its title from the book Pyrotechnia, the earliest guide to recreational fireworks. It was published in 1635 by the gunner, John Babington. The four violin concertos chosen to display Bojan Čičić’s own virtuosity all have movements ending in a capriccio, a virtuosic display cadenza that became the norm in the later Classical and Romantic era concertos. Several of Vivaldi’s own improvised cadenzas have survived through copies made by his own pupils.
An Adriatic Voyage
The Illyria Consort and The Marian Consort
Bojan Čičić, Rory McCleery, directors
London Festival of Baroque Music
St John’s Smith Square. 15 May 2022
CD: Adriatic Voyage
Seventeenth-century music from Venice to Dalmatia
Delphian DCD 34260. 58’26
Music by Francesco Sponga (aka Usper), Gabriel Spona, Gabrielo Puliti,
Vicenz Jelić, Julije Skovelić, Ivan Lukačić, and Thomasso Cecchini.
It is not often that I review a concert where only one of the composers seemed familiar, and that one confused me with a different version of his name. This excellent concert (and the extended CD version) was inspired by the record of a 1575 journey by the Venetian diplomat and naval commander Giacomo Soranzo as he set sail from Venice to Constantinople. As they sailed down the Istrian coast, (present-day Croatia) they called in at various port cities, most of which were within the territory of the Venetians and subject to the continual movement of trade and people bringing different influences to the varied local culture. The concert is by composers who lived on the Dalmatian coast in the years after Soranzo’s expedition.
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.
Music for Milan Cathedral
Siglo de Oro, Patrick Allies
Delphian DCD34224. 66’26
Rather sensibly, Siglo de Oro has called this recording Music for Milan Cathedral, rather than The Motets of Hermann Matthias Werrecore which, in effect, is what it is. Werrecore (c1500->1574) is an almost totally unknown composer who became maestro di cappella of Milan Cathedral in 1522 and stayed until 1550. Confusion with another composer with a similar name didn’t help him become better known, nor did the prominence of other composers connected with Milan, including one of Werrecore’s predecessors, Josquin des Prez (c1450-1521). This excellent recording by Siglo de Oro is a well-deserved attempt to revive interest in this fascinating composer whose music, by the standards on this recording, is well worth exploring.
Giovanni Stefano Carbonelli: Sonate da Camera 7-12
Bojan Čičić & The Illyria Consort
Delphian DCD34214. 78’18
Following their 2017 debut recording of the first six of Giovanni Stefano Carbonelli’s Sonate de Camera (my enthusiastic review is here), Bojan Čičić & The Illyria Consort return to complete the set with the final six concertos. Four of the six are premier recordings. Sadly that completes the only known compositions surviving from this fascinating composer, Italian born, but settling and making a success of a career in England. My earlier review sets out the background to Carbonelli and these pieces, so I will not repeat them here. Continue reading
Hieronymus Praetorius: Missa Tulerunt Dominum Meum
Siglo de Oro, Patrick Allies
Delphian DCD34208. 59’27
Hieronymus Praetorius is one of the finest, but one of the least-known, of the magnificent sequence of North German organist-composers centred around Hamburg during the 17th century. He represents what to many is a surprising reflection of the state of music in Hamburg in the years before the influence of the Amsterdam-trained generation of Sweelinck pupils. These included Hieronymus’s own sons, Jacob II and Johannes, together with Samual Scheidt, Heinrich Scheidemann and Melchior Schildt. In the ‘family-business’ world of German organists, Hieronymus was the son of an organist (Jacob I) and eventually replaced him as organist of the Hamburg Jacobikirche. Continue reading
Giovanni Stefano Carbonelli: Sonate da Camera 1-6
Bojan Čičić & The Illyria Consort
Delphian DCD34194. 63’46
For a British musician, now is a very good time to be reminded of the extraordinary contribution that immigrant musicians have made to our musical history, from at least the early 1500s. This CD reflects that in at least two ways. Giovanni Stefano Carbonelli was born in Liverno in 1694. Although supposition that he studied with Corelli seems ill-founded, he certainly absorbed and developed Corelli’s style. He moved to England in, or just before 1719, possibly at the invitation of John Manners (then Marquess of Granby, and soon to become the 3rd Duke of Rutland), who was to be his only known patron in England. Almost immediately on his arrival Carbonelli became leader of the Drury Lane Theatre orchestra, a post which also involved performing concertos and sonatas. In 1735, like many of his fellow Italian immigrant musicians, he anglicised his name, in his case to John Stephen Carbonell. Continue reading
Set upon the Rood
New music for choir and ancient instruments
Choir of Gonville & Caius College Cambridge, Geoffrey Webber
Delphian DCD34154. 68’20
Barnaby Brown (triplepipes)
Bill Taylor (lyre)
John & Patrick Kenny (ancient horns)
This recording features the music I heard in the second half of the concert reviewed here during the 2016 London Festival of Contemporary Church Music. The Choir of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge and their director Geoffrey Webber join with four members of the European Music Archaeology Project: Barnaby Brown, playing the triplepipe and aulos, lyre player Bill Taylor and John and Patrick Kenny playing the ‘Loughnashade horn’ and carnyx. Continue reading
Dragon Voices: Celtic Horns of Ancient Europe
Delphian DCD34183. 66’42
The link between music and archaeology is a comparatively new field of study, helped in recent years by the enterprising European Music Archaeology Project (EMAP) in conjunction with the University of Huddersfield. I reviewed another CDs from the project here and a live concert featuring John Kenny some of the instruments on this CD here. The instruments featured here are Celtic, and include two examples of the carnyx, a two-metre-long bronze trumpet surmounted by a stylised animal head that flourished from around 200 BCE and 200 CE. The upper part of one was found in 1816 in a peat bog at Deskford, Scotland, and was reconstructed in 1993. The other is the Tintignac carnyx, discovered in southern France in 2004 and reconstructed for this project. The third instrument is a reconstruction of the Irish Loughnashade horn, also found in a peat bog, and dating from the first century BCE. Continue reading
Drop down, ye heavens
Advent antiphons for choir and saxophone
Siglo de Oro, Patrick Allies, director, Sam Corkin, saxophones
Delphian DCD34184. 64’45
I reviewed the concert given by Siglo de Oro during the 2016 Spitalfields Winter Festival (here), and have now been sent the CD that includes most of the music from that concert, including the eight ‘O antiphons’ commissioned by the group. These are based on the Catholic tradition of including special Magnificat antiphons, each beginning with the letter ‘O’, during Advent week services. The well-known Advent hymn O come, O come, Emmanuel, is a paraphrase of one of these antiphons. Each of the new commissions (all in English) adds the distinctive sounds of a saxophone to the choir. Acting as a foil to the eight new commissions are three Renaissance O antiphons are included, by Pierre Certon, Antoine de Mornable, and Josquin des Prez. Continue reading
Ancient music from the Highlands of Scotland
Barnaby Brown, Clare Salaman, Bill Taylor
Delphian DCD34171. 74’37
Hindorõdin hindodre (One of the Cragich),
Cumha Mhic Leòid (McLeod’s Lament),
Fear Pìoba Meata (The Timid Piper),
Cruinneachadh nan Sutharlanach (The Sutherlands’ Gathering),
Hiorodotra cheredeche (a nameless pibroch),
Port na Srian (The Horse’s Bridle Tune),
Pìobaireachd na Pàirce (The Park Pibroch),
Ceann Drochaid’ Innse-bheiridh (The End of Inchberry Bridge).
Opening with the sound of a rowing boat, seagulls and breaking waves is just the start of an extraordinary aural journey exploring the ancient music and instruments of the Scottish highlands. This recording, and its related research activities, aim to trace the evolution of ‘pibroch’ (pìobaireachd), translating as ‘what the piper does’. One thing a piper probably did not do was to use such a vast range of instruments to perform the music. For another part of their project involves studying the ‘Strange and Ancient’ instruments of our musical past. And so, rather than an hour of traditional bagpipes, we have the haunting sounds of a vulture bone flute (copied from an 30,000 year old original), a Highland clarsach (20-string harp) wire and gut stringed lyres (from originals found at Sutton Hoo and Sweden), a medieval fiddle, hurdy-gurdy and, perhaps most unusually, a Hardanger fiddle, an instrument dating back only to the mid 17th century. I doubt that these instruments were well known to Highland pipers or, indeed, collectively, by anybody in pre-modern days. Continue reading
Chorus vel Organa
Music from the Lost Palace of Westminster
Choir of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge,
Delphian DCD34158. 66’56
Geoffrey Webber, director, Magnus Williamson, organ
Anon c1519: Processional: Sancte Dei pretiose; Ludford: Missa Lapidaverunt Stephanum (Gloria & Agnus Dei), Lady Mass Cycle (Agnus Dei, Alleluia – Salve Virgo, Gloria, Kyrie, Laetabundus); Cornysh Magnificat; Sheppard Hymn: Sancte Dei pretiose; Anon c1530: Offertory: Felix namque.
Anybody who has visited the Houses of Parliament in Westminster will probably have entered by the St Stephen’s entrance and walked through St Stephen’s Hall towards the famous ‘Lobby’, all built around 1850 to the design of Charles Barry. Most will not realise the significance of the St Stephen’s name, or what lies hidden beneath their feet. St Stephen’s Hall is the site of the mediaeval Royal Chapel of St Stephen’s, originally a private chapel for the King and his family and only accessible from the Royal Palace of Westminster. Barry’s sumptuous ceremonial hall was built on top of the surviving undercroft of the Royal Chapel, now known as St Mary Undercroft. The chapel was first mentioned in 1184, and was rebuilt by Edward I around 1292, a project that lasted many years. It was raised to the status of a college by Edward III in 1348, and developed an outstanding tradition of music which lasted until the dissolution in 1548 when it became the first meeting place of the English House of Commons, until 1854. Many of the current parliamentary traditions stem from these Continue reading
Overture Transcriptions II
The Organ of Rochdale Town Hall
Delphian DCD34143. 67’27
Overtures by: Nicolai, Spohr, Bach, Handel, Verdi, Weber, Tchaikovsky;
Transcribed by: Lemare, Best, Grace, Lang, Peace, Byram-Wigfield.
The story of the British Town Hall organ is a bit of a sideline of European organ history, but it is one worth exploring. The use of organs to promote civic pride and usurp their neighbours was not new in organ history – in 17th century Netherlands, for example, the main church organs were owned by the town, not the church, and a similar competitiveness is evident. The initial inspiration in Britain seems to have come from the increasingly large choral societies, their own roots going back to the enormous late 18th century Handel Commemoration Concerts. Such large vocal forces rehearsed and performed in the sumptuous Victorian Town Halls, notably in the emerging industrial powerhouses of the Midlands and North, but also in more southerly places like Reading. Some of the largest British organs are housed in such places, and Continue reading
Choir of Merton College, Oxford
Delphian DCD34174. 75’36
Although the sub-title, ‘Favourite anthems from Merton’, might not be quite accurate for every potential listener, this collection of anthems certainly represents a fascinating insight into Oxbridge choral tradition and its music. It opens with the premiere recording of Jonathan Dove’s Te Deum, a paean of praise with an exciting accompaniment that shows off their new organ. In a very mixed programme, we then have Tallis’s exquisite little If ye love me, before Elgar arrives with Give unto the Lord before giving way to Thomas Morley, a rather dramatic switch of musical styles. And so it continues, with Rutter, Parry, Quilter, Finzi, Harris and Patrick Gowers interweaved between Byrd and more Tallis.
It should be stressed that this is a mixed voice student choir, not the boys and mens choir found in some Oxbridge foundations and most English cathedral choirs. Continue reading
Cornelius, Mendelssohn, Schumann
Lucy Crowe & William Berger, with Iain Burnside (piano)
Delphian. DCD34167. 60’23.
Cornelius: Duette, Op. 16, Frühling im Sommer, Zweistimmige Lieder, Zu den Bergen hebt sich ein Augenpaar;
Mendelssohn: Lieder-Duette, Altdeutsches Frühlingslied ‘Der trübe Winter ist vorbei’;
Schumann: Dein Angesicht, Familien-Gemälde, Das Glück, Ich bin dein Baum, Aufträge, Wiegenlied.
This rather unusual CD reflects one of the glories of 19th century domestic music-making (itself reaching its zenith in that period), the repertoire for two voices and piano, in this case represented by Cornelius, Mendelssohn, and Schumann, three of the finest masters of the genre. Generally overlooked nowadays in favour of larger scale performances, this CD reflects a now almost completely forgotten aspect of earlier home life: music making centred on the domestic piano. However, in this case, the venue is more likely to be a saloon, given the recording acoustic of a church and the rather unauthentic use of a modern concert grand piano (given its own billing in the programme note as a Steinway model D, serial number 589064) rather than a period piano – or, indeed, the more likely upright to be found in most 19th century homes. Continue reading
Loquebantur: Music from the Baldwin Partbooks
The Marian Consort (dir. Rory McCleary) & Rose Consort of Viols
Delphian DCD34160. 66’12
Parsons: The Song Called Trumpets; Tallis: Loquebantur variis linguis; Mundy: Adolescentulus sum ego; Byrd: Canon Six in One, O salutaris hostia; Aston: Hugh Astons Maske; Gerarde: Sive vigilem; Bevin: Browning; Ferrabosco: I Da pacem Domine; Lassus: Ubi est Abel; Hollander: Dum transisset Sabbatum; Tallis: Suscipe quaeso Domine; Taverner: Quemadmodum; Mundy: Adhaesit pavimento; Baldwin: Coockow as I me walked; Sheppard: Ave maris stella.
I reviewed The Marian Consort in their concert during the Regensburg Tage Alter Musik festival, where they sang music from the Robert Dow partbooks, dating from the mid-1580s. My review of their CD of that music can be found here. Their latest CD explores another manuscript from Christ Church Oxford, the Baldwin Partbooks, a very personal collection of pieces that Baldwin would have got to know during his time as a lay clerk at St George’s Windsor and in the Chapel Royal. He is also known as the copyist of My Ladye Nevells Booke. One of the six vocal partbooks is missing, so some detective work and reconstruction has been required. At the end of the manuscript are some untexted, and presumably instrumental, pieces here played by the Rose Consort of Viols. Continue reading
An Emerald in a Work of Gold
The Marian Consort
Delphian DCD34115. 72’49
There is a current trend of building CD and concert programmes on collections of pieces made by others, one example being the Marian Consort & Rose Consort of Viols CD ‘An Emerald in a Work of Gold’. The music was drawn from the Robert Dow partbooks, copied in the mid-1580s and now housed in the library of Christ Church, Oxford. As well as being a major source of music of the period (with 134 pieces), Dow’s manuscripts are fine examples of musical calligraphy. The music is indicated as being suitable for voices and viols, so the pairing of the Marian Consort and the Rose Consort is appropriate, the latter providing accompaniment for five solo songs as well as instrumental solos. Continue reading
Mynstrelles with Straunge Sounds
Clare Wilkinson, Rose Consort of Viols
Delphian DCD34169. 67’20
Anon: And I were a maiden, De tous biens plaine, Fortuna desperate; Henry VIII: Helas madame, van Ghizeghem De tous biens plaine; Josquin: De tous biens plaine, attrib. Busnoys: Fortune esperée; Josquin: Fortuna desperate; Penalosa: Vita dulcedo / Agnus Dei II; Agricola: Cecus non iudicat de coloribus; Encina: Triste España; Martini: Des biens amors, La martinella; Josquin: In te Domine speravi; Anon: In te Domine sperabo, La quercia, Biblis; Encina: Fata la parte; Anon: La Spagna; Ponce: La mi sola Laureola; Cornysh: Fa la so; Anchieta: Con amores, la mi madre; Isaac: Agnus Dei II, Josquin: Adieu mes amours.
The Rose Consort is named after an English family of viol makers active around 1600. But for this CD they have gone back 100 years or so to perform on a set of viols based on those depicted on an altarpiece in Bologna dating from 1497, around the time of the very first documentary evidence of a consort of four viols – hence the CDs sub-title of ‘The Earliest consort music for viols’. And it is from Bologna that several of the pieces hail, from the manuscript Bologna Q.18. Continue reading