Henry Aldrich: Sacred Choral Music

Henry Aldrich: Sacred Choral Music
Cathedral Singers of Christ Church, Oxford
James Morley Potter, David Bannister, The Restoration Consort
Convivium Records CR052. 80′

 You would be forgiven if, like me, you had never heard of Henry Aldrich (1648-1710). He was something of a polymath, combing roles as Dean of Christ Church, Oxford and later Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University with interests in logic, architecture and music, composing works for the Christ Church Chapel (which doubles as Oxford’s Cathedral). He is probably best known today, if at all, for his 1750 book on logic Artis Logicæ Compendium, but he also designed the church of All Saints, Oxford (now the library of Lincoln College) and the Peckwater Quadrangle in Christ Church. This timely recording brings some of his music to well deserved public attention. Continue reading

Andrew Benson-Wilson plays Scheidt: Tabulatura Nova III – A Lutheran Vespers

Andrew Benson-Wilson
plays
Samuel Scheidt (1587-1654)
Tabulatura Nova III
A Lutheran organ Vespers

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The Queen’s College Chapel, Oxford
Wednesday 24 October, 1:10

Andrew’s series of concerts featuring the North German pupils of Sweelinck (the ‘Orpheus of Amsterdam’) continues with this, the second of two recitals of music by one of Sweelinck’s most distinguished pupils, Samuel Scheidt. His influential three-volume Tabulatura Nova was published in 1624 and is one of the most important of all the many collections of organ music. Its 58 pieces are a comprehensive demonstration of compositional styles. Whereas the first two volumes included a variety of sacred and secular pieces in different styles, Volume III consists entirely of Lutheran liturgical music. It opens with settings for the Ordinary of the Mass, followed by the settings of the hymns and Magnificat for a Lutheran Vespers. It ends with one of the most extraordinary pieces of the whole 17th century North German organ repertoire: the powerful Modus pleno Organo pedaliter: Benedicamus à  6 Voc, its six voices divided between four on the manuals and two on the pedals.

Kyrie Dominicale 4. Toni
Gloria Canit Pastor: Et in terra pax 
Credo in unum Deum

Hymnus: Veni Creator Spiritus

Magnificat 9 Toni

Psalmus sub Comminione: Jesus Christus, unser Heiland

Modus pleno Organo pedaliter: Benedicamus à 6 Voc

Played on the influential Frobenius organ. More information here.
Admission free – retiring collection.

Melchior Schildt (d1667)

Andrew Benson-Wilson
plays the complete surviving organ works of
Melchior Schildt (1592-1667)

The Queen’s College Chapel, Oxford
Wednesday 29 November, 1:10

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Melchior Schildt (1592-1667) was a pupil of Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck. After a spell as court organist to the King of Denmark in Copenhagen, he succeeded his father as organist of the Hanover Marktkirche, where he remained. This recital includes his Magnificat Primi Modi, and a beautiful intabultation on the funeral motet Herzlich lieb hab’ ich dich.

Melchior Schildt came from a family of Hanover musicians. After spending time in Wolfenbüttel and Copenhagen, he returned to Hanover, succeeding his father as organist of the Marktkirche where he remained until his death. He seems to have been quite a character. While in Wolfenbüttel, he attacked the organ builder Gottfried Fritzsche in the organ loft, nearly strangling him before Fritzsche grabbed one of his heftier organ-building tools to fend him off. The relationship with his second wife was strained, to the extent that, on his death, he arranged for his son to be removed from his mother’s care and given to a guardian. Perhaps in reflection of his own experiences, he further stipulated that his son must not learn any musical instrument for fear that he would adopt a ‘wild and dissolute’ life. He was said to have performed in a dramatic style, playing in such a way as to ‘make listeners ‘laugh or weep’.

Information on the Frobenius organ here.
Admission free – retiring collection. 

Weckmann recital: programme notes

The Queen’s College Chapel, Oxford.  27 April 2016
WP_20151124_12_09_44_Pro.jpgMatthias Weckmann
1616–1674

Andrew Benson-Wilson

Praeambulum Primi toni a 5
Ach wir armen Sünder (3v)
Canzon V
Magnificat Secundi Toni (4v)
Toccata ex D
Gelobet seystu, Jesu Christ (4v)

Matthias Weckmann is one of the most influential 17th century organist composers of the North German – a compositional school that started with Hieronymus Praetorius and the pupils of Sweelinck and culminated in Buxtehude and, by influence, Bach. Weckmann’s contribution was to bring elements of the Italian style to North Germany. Unlike most of his contemporaries who were born in or near Hamburg and studied in Amsterdam, Weckmann was born in Thuringia. He studied in the Dresden Court under Heinrich Schütz, a pupil of Giovanni Gabrieli, and in Hamburg with Jacob Praetorius, a Sweelinck pupil. After periods in Denmark and Dresden (where he befriended Froberger, also born in 1616), Weckmann settled in Hamburg in 1655, becoming organist of the Jacobikirche and setting up the Collegium Musicum. He is buried beneath the Jacobikirche organ.

The Praeambulum Primi toni a 5 is a fine example of the mid-17th century North German style of free composition that led Continue reading

Matthias Weckmann (1616-1674)

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Andrew Benson-Wilson plays music by
Matthias Weckmann (1616-1674)
on the famous Frobenius organ in the Chapel of The Queen’s College, Oxford. 

27 April 2016, 13:10.

A recital of organ music by the Hamburg master organist/composer, Matthias Weckmann, born 400 years ago this year. A pupil of Schütz who, in turn, was a pupil of Giovanni Gabrieli, Weckmann studied and worked in Dresden and Denmark. A friend of the influential Froberger, Weckmann settled in Hamburg in 1655 as organist of the Jakobikirche. He died in 1674 and is buried beneath the Jakobikirche organ.

Praeambulum Primi toni a 5
Ach wir armen Sünder (3v)
Canzon V
Magnificat Secundi Toni (4v)
Toccata ex D
Gelobet seystu, Jesu Christ (4v)

Programme note here.

Admission free – retiring collection.  Organ information here.
See also www.organrecitals.com/abw.

Viri Galilaei

Viri Galilaei
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

German Renaissance Organ Music c1460-1577. Programme notes

The Queen’s College Chapel, Oxford.  25 November 2015
German Renaissance Organ Music  c1460-1577

Andrew Benson-Wilson

Conrad Paumann (c1410-1473) Gloria de Sancta Maria Vergine
Paul Hofhaimer (1459-1537)      Salve Regina  5v.
Hans Buchner (1483-1538)         Gloria patri in la quarto toni
Hans Kotter (c1485-1541)           Kochersperger Spanieler
Arnolt Schlick (c1460-c1521)    Da pacem
Bernhard Schmid I (1535-92)    Ein gutter Wein ist lobenswerdt    –    Sicut mater consolatur

Queen's photo.jpgThe start of the Renaissance is difficult to define. In organ music, around 1450 seems a reasonable date, with music from the likes of the Buxheimer Orgelbüch and the Faenza Codex combining elements of Medieval and Renaissance styles. By this stage, the organ had a fully chromatic keyboard, sometimes more than one manual, and independent stops were beginning to be separated out from the Medieval ‘Blockwerk’ – the equivalent of single mixture where one note plays a chorus of ten or more notes.

The first piece demonstrates this transitional phase. Continue reading

The Queen’s College, Oxford. German Renaissance Organ Music c1460-1577

2014-03-12-850The Queen’s College Chapel, Oxford

25 November 2015, 1:10

German Renaissance Organ Music

Andrew Benson-Wilson

A rare chance to hear some of this fascinating and little-known repertoire, played on the Frobenius organ during its anniversary year.

Conrad Paumann (c1410-1473)       Gloria de Sancta Maria Vergine  8v.
Paul Hofhaimer (1459-1537)            Salve Regina  5v.
Hans Buchner (1483-1538)               Gloria patri in la quarto toni
Hans Kotter (c1485-1541)                 Kochersperger Spanieler
Arnolt Schlick (c1460-c1521)            Da pacem   3v.
Bernhard Schmid I (1535-92)           Ein gutter Wein ist lobenswerd
                                                             Sicut mater consolatur
Admission free – retiring collection.  Organ information here.