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Early Music

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Tobias HUME (1575?-1645)
The Passion of Musick
Poeticall Musicke

The Soldiers Song [01:59]
A souldiers Galiard [01:44]
Fain would I change that note [02:46]
Tobacco is like love [01:47]
M.S. Georges delight [02:21]
Cease leaden slumber [05:21]
The passion of musick [03:48]
What greater griefe [04:21]
Captain Hume Lamentation [08:28]
Captaine Humes Musicall Humors

Hark, hark [02:02]
I'm falling [01:21]
Beccus an hungarian lord his delight [04:44]
Captain Hume Pavin [08:32]
A Souldiers resolution [04:11]
Deth [05:21]
Life [01:56]
A Pavin [05:55]
Nima Ben David, bass viol; Pascale Boquet, tenor and bass lute, theorbo; Damien Guillon, alto; Bruno Boterf, tenor
Consort de la Belle Feullie: (Ariane Maurette, descant and bass viol; Andréas Linos, tenor and bass viol; Nima Ben David, bass viol; Pascal Gallon, bass lute)
rec. April 2003, Chapel of the Hospital Notre-Dame de Bon Secours, Paris, France. DDD
ALPHA 061 [66:43]

 

Tobias Hume is certainly one of the most remarkable personalities in the history of music. He considered himself first and foremost a soldier. He travelled through Europe and served in several armies as a mercenary. In 1624 he entered the London Charterhouse as a "poor brother". Towards the end of his life his living conditions had severely worsened and in 1645 he died a poor man.

But he wasn't only a soldier. This apparently rather rude and uncivilised character was one of the most skilful players of the viol, and played a considerable role in the development of viol playing in England. He published two collections of music. 'The First Book of Ayres', also known as 'Musicall Humors', appeared in 1605 and was the first publication of music for solo viol (with some additional songs). It was the second in which the viol was presented as a chordal instrument which was to accompany the voice, as an alternative to the lute. The first composer to do so was Robert Johnson in his 'First and Second Booke of Songs' of 1601. In this collection Johnson notated the viol part in French lute tablature. He referred to these accompaniments as being "after the leero fashion". As the title of Hume's publication indicates, he also wrote his pieces for the 'lyra-viol': "for the Leero Viol to play alone". One of the features of the 'lyra-viol', or - usually - the viol played the 'lyra-way', was the possibility to play in chords.

Hume was also one of the first composers to ask for the strings to be plucked, and to make use of the technique of playing 'col legno' (with the bow stick). He played an essential role in inventing and promoting these techniques which were to become standard in English lyra-viol music.

The second collection of compositions by Hume was 'Captaine Humes Poeticall Musicke' of 1607, which contained consort music and songs. In this publication Hume didn't only ask for a consort of viols, but also suggested his music to be played by other instruments, like lute and orpharion, or by a 'broken consort', an ensemble of instruments from different families. It is thought the texts of the songs in this collection were written by Hume himself, as they seem to refer quite often to his own life.

This disc contains a selection from both collections. The pieces represent the two sides of this strange individual. On the one hand there are works which reflect his activities as a soldier, like the first two items on the programme. And "Hume who drank 'small Beere' may have thought of being inebriated with 'I am falling'", writes Jonathan Dunford in the liner notes. On the other hand we find very refined and deeply melancholic pieces like 'Cease leaden slumber' and 'What greater griefe', which are at the same level as the best that John Dowland wrote. Some consort pieces are also of a reflective nature, like 'The Passion of Musick' and 'Captain Hume Lamentation'. The same kind of compositions can be found among the pieces for solo viol, like 'Deth' and 'Life'.

On this disc all music is played by the viol or a consort of viols with additional plucked instruments. The vocal items are sung in period pronunciation. I noticed a rolling "r", whereas in other recordings which use period pronunciation the "r" is spoken the 'American way'. The contributions of both singers are very good, even though Bruno Boterf once forgets how to pronounce 'love' the 'period way', and Damien Guillon swallows the last letter of some words. But his performance of 'Cease leaden slumber' and 'What greater griefe' is very moving. I just would like to hear a little more ornamentation.

The playing of Nima Ben David and her colleagues is excellent. The character of the more reflective pieces is well realised, but they also accurately exploit the effects Hume prescribes, for example the imitation of drums and trumpets in 'A souldiers Galliard'. The accompaniment of the song 'Tobacco is like love' is very evocative.

This is a worthy tribute to one of the most interesting composers in English music history, and strongly recommended.

Johan van Veen



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