Imaginario: De un Libro de Música de Vihuela

Imaginario: De un Libro de Música de Vihuela
Armonía Concertada
María Cristina Kiehr, Ariel Abramovich

with Jacob Heringman & John Potter
Outhere/Arcana A460. 61’37

album cover

This recording is based on an imaginarly Vihuela songbook as might have been published in Valladolid or Seville sometime around 1575. That premise is based on and inspired by seven surviving earlier vihuela songbooks, dating from between 1536 and 1576. Versions of pieces from those earlier songbooks have been arranged by lutenists Ariel Abramovich and Jacob Heringman in Spanish style. The result is an attractive and musically sensible reinterpretation of some delightful music, brilliantly performed by María Cristina Kiehr and Ariel Abramovich, with occasional contributions from Jacob Heringman and a single offering from John Potter. Continue reading

London International Exhibition of Early Music

London International Exhibition of Early Music
Early Music Young Ensemble Competition Finals
Blackheath, 8-10 November 2018

The London International Exhibition of Early Music is the latest incarnation of an annual event organised over many years by the Early Music Shop. It has had a number of names over the years, the most recent one being the Royal Greenwich International Early Music Festival, although it had been resident in Blackheath for a couple of years. My review of last year’s festival can be found here. Concerts have always been an important addition to the musical instrument exhibition, ranging from demonstration recitals on behalf of instrument makers, Performers Platforms, competition winner’s recitals and, this year, for the first time, the Early Music Young Ensemble Competition Finals, alongside more formal evening concerts by some leading names in the early music world. This year’s complete events diary can be seen here. The instrument exhibition itself takes place in the newly restored Blackheath Halls, with the concerts taking place in nearby churches. Continue reading

Secret History

John Potter: Secret History
Josquin/Victoria

ECM New Series ECM2119

It’s been a while since the names of John Potter and ECM have been linked in an ‘early music’ recording, the last being back in Potter’s Hilliard Ensemble days. This recording was made in 2011, and was the first time this group of musicians had got together. It pre-dates their later recording Amores Pasados published in 2015. The result is a radical re-think of Renaissance music performance, not least in reducing complex polyphony to just one or two vocal lines, sung by John Potter and Anna Maria Friman, the remaining voices being played on vihuelas (an early form of guitar, tuned like a lute) by Ariel Abramovich, Jacob Haringman, and Lee Santana. In the opening eight-part Mouton Nesciens mater for example, they sing the two paired superius lines, in the form of a canon at the fifth, very occasionally switching to one of the other six voices. The three vihuelas play the remaining pairs of voices, which are all also in the same strict canonic form. An extraordinary feat of contrapuntal writing, reduced to comparative simplicity.  Continue reading

Conductus 3: Music & Poetry from 13th century France

Conductus 3: Music & Poetry from 13th century France
John Potter, Christopher O’Gorman, Rogers Covey-Crump
Hyperion CDA68115. 61’35

The link between early music performance and academic musicological study has always been close, but seems to be becoming even more so with a number of recent projects stemming directly from research backed by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC). One such is the project ‘Cantum pulcriorem invenire: Thirteenth-Century Music and Poetry’, based at Southampton University, headed by Mark Everist (details here). The Cantum pulcriorem invenire (“To find a more beautiful melody”) title is, not surprisingly reduced to the more manageable CPI. As well as three recordings and related live concerts, there is an on-line database, and Mark Everist has also published a monograph ‘Discovering Song: Thirteenth-Century Latin Poetry and Music’ through Cambridge University Press.

This is the third CD to have come from this project, which explores the world of the conductus in 13th century France – arguably the “first consistent repertory of newly-composed polyphony in the history of music”. In contrast Continue reading

Amores Pasados

Amores Pasados
John Potter, Anna Maria Friman, Ariel Abramovich, Jacob Herringman
ECM New Series. 481 1555

AP coverWhat is a song? The music on this CD responds to that question by crossing the bridge between art song and pop song. It combines pieces from the English 16th century lute song repertoire with compositions influenced by those works by three present day musicians, more usually associated with rock music. We hear the Genesis keyboard-player, Tony Banks, reflect on Campion’s The cypress curtain of the night and Follow thy fair sun – as well as the Campion originals. Sting’s Bury me deep in the greenwood (written for the film, Robin Hood) is firmly in the lute-song tradition.

The CD opens with former Led Zeppelin bass-player, John Paul Jones’s 15 minute, three movement Amores Pasados, written in 1989 for Red Byrd. His No dormia, is a magically evocative, and almost medieval Continue reading