> Music at the Court of Charles I [JW]: Classical Reviews- February 2002 MusicWeb-International

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Come live with me and be my Love
So, so break off this late lamenting kiss
Goe and Catch a fallinge star
Dearest love I doe not goe


Tis true, tis day, what though it be?

A hymne to God the Father
William LAWES (1602-1645)
Consort set in C minor
Nicholas LANIER (1588-1666)
Bring away this sacred tree
Stay, still heart
Amorosa pargoletta
Fire, fire
No more shall meads be deck’d with flowers

Richard SUMARTE (fl c1630)
Paul Agnew, tenor
Christopher Wilson, lute and theorbo
Concordia, director Marl Levy
Recording dates and locations not provided. ?1997
METRONOME MET CD 1038 [61.00]


Experience Classicsonline

This compilation accompanied a National Gallery showing of Charles I’s court painter Orazio Gentileschi whose most famous painting, the beautifully composed The Finding of Moses adorns the booklet cover. Metronome have chosen well from their catalogue with mainly anonymous settings of Donne, a consort set by Lawes, a Lachrimae by the little known Sumarte, and some of Nicholas Lanier’s songs. The variety thus engendered says something for the diversity of Caroline culture. The settings of Donne are especially instructive, not least in the rapidity with which they were set by his contemporaries – Donne became Dean of St Pauls in 1625. Paul Agnew brings his accustomed tonal and textual sophistication to bear on these settings, colouring and shading his tone to amplify linguistic meaning and employs a variety of inflective devices in so doing. Listen to his softened "ghost" in So, to break off this late lamenting kiss <sample 1>to appreciate the level of expressive nuance he employs. Tis true, tis day, what though it be? in a setting by William Corkine catches the swift wit of Donne’s poem, its compass ranging from high to low voice, in a way which other perhaps more confined settings do not. Of some historical interest is the fact that Donne himself probably commissioned John Hilton’s setting of his own poem, A hymne to God the Father. Lawes’ Consort set is based on Dowland’s Lachrymae but is infused with the new spirit of the age and is excellently realized by Concordia. When Agnew turns to the first Master of the King’s Musicke, Nicholas Lanier, he warms to the Italianate brio of Amorosa pargoletta - listen to his splendidly and dramatically rolled "r" <sample 2> in this song maybe addressed to Artemesia, Lanier’s supposed lover during his Italian travels. Lanier’s was a shadowy life. The Chaconne bass of No more shall meads be deck’d with flowers brilliantly highlights the conceit of the poem. Agnew’s excellent diction generally renders texts unnecessary – but it would have been good if Metronome had thought to provide them – and we can hear him <sample 3> opening his voice and bringing to this body of songs an immediacy and fluency truly admirable. Equal praise to Christopher Wilson, who plays lute and theorbo, and adds to the genuine pleasures of this disc.

Jonathan Woolf


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