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.

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Spitalfields Music: Christmas with the Shepherds

Spitalfields Music: Christmas with the Shepherds
The Marian Consort, Rory McCleery
St Leonard’s, Shoreditch. 14 December 2015

Cover_Christmas_With_The_Shepherds_266For their Spitalfields Festival debut, The Marian Consort brought their programme ‘Christmas with the Shepherds’ (based on last year’s CD release) to St Leonard’s, Shoreditch at the conclusion of a national tour. In a very well conceived and planned programme, they traced the influence of Jean Mouton on composers of the following century, notably Cristóbel de Morales, whose Missa Quaeramus cum pastoribus formed the nucleus of the programme. After the opening motet Alma Redemptoris Mater by Victoria, the latest of the composers represented, we heard Mouton’s motet Quaeramus cum pastoribus, a work that stayed in the repertoire of the Sistine Chapel for more than 100  years and survives in 27 manuscripts and printed sources now to be found as far apart as Aberdeen and Guatemala. It is the best known of a series of ‘Noë’ motets found in the Sistine Chapel archive, the result of the Medici Pope Leo X whose after-dinner entertainment Continue reading

Loquebantur: Music from the Baldwin Partbooks

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 hereTheir 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

An Emerald in a Work of Gold
The Marian Consort
Delphian DCD34115. 72’49

An Emerald in a Work of GoldThere 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

Regensburg: Tage Alter Musik 2015

Regensburg: Tage Alter Musik
22-25 May 2015

WP_20150526_13_01_29_ProFor those with limited time but an insatiable urge to attend early music concerts, I can recommend the Tage Alter Musik festival in the delightful Danube city of Regensburg (the entire city centre is a World Heritage site). With no fewer than 17 concerts in just 4 days, this is not for the faint-hearted. But the musical rewards and the historical venues (which include extreme Baroque, austere Gothic and the Reichssaal, for centuries the seat of the Parliament of the Holy Roman Empire) are worth the attempt. Continue reading