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Amorous in Music
William Cavendish in
Antwerp (1648-1660)

Daphne [4:10]
Strawberry leaves [1:33]
Tickle my toe [1:48]
John DOWLAND (1563-1626)
Pavan (Taffelconsort) (1621) [4:18]
Lamentatio Henrici Noel [4:10]
Galeazzo SABBATINI (1597-1662)
Congregavit Dominus aquas [4:10]
Nicholaes a KEMPIS (c.1600-1676)
Symphonia No.1 Op.2 [5:01]
Leonora DUARTE (1610-1678)
Sinfonia No.1 [2:29]
William LAWES (1602-1645)
Up, Ladies, Up [1:46]
Suite in G minor [6:28]
Gather ye rosebuds [1:49]
Henry LAWES (1596-1662)
Now Lucatia now make haste [3:52]
Orlando GIBBONS (1583-1625)
Fantasia No.2 from Koninklycke Fantasien [2:37]
Matthew LOCKE (c.1621-1677)
Lucinda, wink or veil those eyes [2:36]
Oh the brave jolly gypsy [1:15]
John JENKINS (1592-1678)
Newark Siege [6:04]
Galliard [2:55]
Nicholas LANIER (1588-1666)
No more shall meads [3:02]
Peter PHILLIPS (1561-1628)
Pavan Dolorosa [4:54]
Galliard [1:35]
Angharad Gruffydd Jones (soprano)
Concordia/Mark Levy
rec. Academiezaal Sint-Truiden, January 2006
ETCETERA KTC 4019 [67:05]

The William Cavendish of the title was Duke of Newcastle – an artistic patron, Royalist Commander in the Civil War, and an exile follower the defeat of the King’s cause. He was born in 1593 and in 1648, eight years before his death, he took rooms in the house belonging to the painter Peter Paul Rubens in Antwerp. There he rose to a position of eminence in the arts as a knowledgeable and appreciative patron in the Low Countries. All branches benefited from his patronage – music, of course, but also painting and the sciences and literature.

He was referred to in Clarendon’s The History of the Rebellion and the Civil Wars in England as “amorous in poetry and music, to which he indulged the greatest part of his time” – hence the title of this disc, though Parliament took a different view, calling him “one of Apollo’s Whirligigs.”

Whether through personal acquaintance with the composers or through knowledge of their work or patronage, whereby he encouraged publication, Cavendish was an important figure. For example he’d met William Lawes in 1633. Matthew Locke set one of Cavendish’s own songs, Oh the brave jolly gypsy from The Triumphant Widow, a reworking of his comic interlude A Pleasant and Merry Humour. Henry Lawes was attached to the house of Cavendish’s son in law John Viscount Brackley. And Cavendish later often attended musical parties at the Antwerp home of Gaspar Duarte (1584-1653) a rich merchant whose daughter Leonora is represented here by a Sinfonia.

So, talented, influential but ultimately the backer of the losing side for the time at least, Cavendish’s life in the Low Countries was one of considerable interest. It’s this nexus between patron and the composers he admired and heard, which forms the focus of the disc performed in their usually adroit fashion by Concordia under Mark Levy.

Their impressive textures can be appreciated in the anonymous Daphne, weaving and building in timbral complexity. They take a dramatic and incisive view of Dowland’s Pavan and deal excitingly with Nicholaes a Kempis’s Symphonia. Here viol runs are florid and galvanising. John Jenkins’s two instrumental pieces celebrate the raising of the siege of Newark – Cavendish had been commander in chief of the northern forces and had himself placed a garrison there. The fact that four months later the royalists were crushed at Marston Moor doesn’t lessen the intermittent gravity and freshness of these two elegantly woven pieces.

William Lawes’s Suite is one of the highest of the high peaks here, a work of dazzling beauty and compression, excellently realised. Peter Phillips’s two pieces offer a constructive contrast – the slow gravity of the Pavan and the cosy elegance of the Galliard.  Concordia are joined by soprano Angharad Gruffydd Jones for several songs. Her voice has less of the beacon clarity of certain early music practitioners and more of a healthy warmth to it. It makes her approach to Sabbatini’s work of some interest. This sounds like Monteverdi and its melismas are strongly brought off, even at the expense of a slightly hooty quality to her voice. I was less taken by the approach of both her and the instrumental group to one of the masterpieces of English song, Lanier’s No more shall meads. Slow though they are when Paul Agnew and Christopher Wilson play this on Metronome METCD1027 one feels the expression intensely. Here Concordia and Jones are much, much quicker and whilst she’s more vowel-interventionist, if I can put it that way, the sum total sounds to me less than the more placidly beautiful Agnew and Wilson.

Still, one wouldn’t want to end carping. The recorded sound is excellent and I’m strongly indebted to Lynn Hulse’s notes for biographical matters. There’s plenty of variety here and quite some historical frisson as well.

Jonathan Woolf



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