Heavenly Songes

Heavenly Songes
Nicholas Ludford: Missa Sabato
La Quintina, Jérémie Couleau
Parity PTY220191. 60′

Nicholas Ludford (c1490-1557) was a contemporary of the organist composers John Taverner, John Redford and Thomas Preston, and preceded Thomas Tallis and John Sheppard by a generation. Knowledge of his life is a lot clearer now than it was, thanks largely to the work of David Skinner and Nicholas Sandon. Born into a musical family, the earliest reference to him seems to be in 1517 when he rented lodgings from Westminster Abbey. This suggests employment at the Abbey or the adjacent St Margaret’s, where Ludford was later connected for the rest of his life. In 1527 Ludford became a singer and organist at the Collegiate Chapel of St Stephen’s within the Royal Palace of Westminster. The chapel was in two parts, the upper (destroyed in 1834) was the sumptuous private chapel of the Royal Family, the lower crypt chapel was for lesser mortals. The lower part of that chapel still exists in the current Houses of Parliament with the name of St Mary Undercroft. It is a ‘Royal Peculiar’ still under the control of The Queen.

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Rameau & Handel

Rameau & Handel
Ensemble Zäis (dir. Benoît Babel) & Paul Goussot (organ)
Parity PARATY714127. 68’20

Handel: Organ Concertos Op7/4, Op4/4, Op4/1;
Rameau:
transcription for organ and orchestra from Pièces de clavecin en concerts and Hippolyte et Aricie.

Rameau & Handel: Dom BedosHandel and Rameau are both frustrating composers for organists. Both were very keen organists throughout their life, but Rameau left no organ music, and Handel very little. I have given many organ recitals solely devoted to Handel’s music, but only by drawing on music almost certainly intended for harpsichord. It works well, but I would love to have heard Handel (and Rameau) improvising on the organ. This CD is something of a nod towards that very happening. The unspoken premise of this recording seems to be that Handel and Rameau (born two years apart) meet near the west coast of France (which Handel certainly never ventured even close to) in a church housing one of the largest and most comprehensive French baroque organs ever built – the 1750 Dom Bedos organ of Saint-Croix in Bordeaux. There happens to be an orchestra present. They set about a run-through of some of their pieces, Handel expanding on his Organ Concertos and Rameau transcribing some of his orchestral and harpsichord ensemble works for organ and orchestra. Both improvise at will.  Continue reading