Music for the Queen of Scots
ANON/TRAD The Scotch Queen [3.02]; Prince Edward’s Pavan [1.42]; Departe, Departe [1.04]; Sanctus (attrib Carver) [6.09]; Ane lesson upon the First Psalme [2.11]; Psalm 113 [1.46]; An exempill of Tripla [0.45]; Richt soir opprest [1.49]; Woe worth the tyme [1.01]; Paven [2.25]; Galliard [1.12]; The Last time I came over the Mure [2.16]; The Queine of Ingland’s Galliard [0.55]
Etienne du TERTRE (?) Première Suyte de Bransles d’Ecosse [1.26]
Pierre CERTON (1510-1572) La, la, la je no l’ose dire [1.31]
Hayne van GHIZEGHEM (1445-1497) De tous biens playne [2.31]
Alexander AGRICOLA (1445-1506) De tous biens playne [1.43]
Antoine GARDANE (1509-1569) Jouissance vous donneray [1,36]
Claudin de SERMISY (1490-1562) Jouissance vous donneray (1.40]
Robert JOHNSON (c.1500-1560) Deus misereatur nostri [4.52]
Claude GOUDIMEL (d.1572) Psalm 113 in reports [1.50]
Thoinot ARBEAU (d.1595) Deux Bransles d’Ecosse [1.48]
John BLACK (1520-1587) Lytill Blak [1.25]; Musick Fyne [1.41]; My Delyt [2.03]
David PEEBLES (d.1579) Psalm 1 [1.08]
Tobias HUME (1569-1645) A French Jigg [0.51]
HUDSON (?) Hutchesoun’s Galyiard [1.29]
James LAUNDER (fl.c.1580) The Golden Pavan [2.48]
John FETHY (c.1550) The Time of Youth [1.55]
The Flautadors (Catherine Fleming, Merlin Harrison, Celia Ireland, Ian Wilson (recorders); Corrina Silvester (percussion))
rec. August 2009, St. Andrew’s Church, Toddington, Gloucs.
DEUX-ELLES DXL 1144 [62.01]

Discs of recorder consort recitals are fairly common at present. Indeed this repertoire has been mulled over by most early music ensembles. Yet its good to have these fine musicians tackling this music. They add something exciting and new to their performances.

The Flautadors have been around for a little while and have performed at Early Music Festivals all over the world. They are joined by the lovely Corrina Silvester on percussion in the dance pieces, a reminder, as Ian Wilson’s excellent booklet notes tell us, that King James IV of Scotland, Mary’s grandfather, was very fond of an African drummer that he had at court in around 1505.

The notes begin with a brief essay on ‘Recorders and Drums in Scotland’ pointing out that Queen Mary employed wind players for her own entertainments. Then we have observations on Mary’s life in the context of the music and the composers with various contemporary commentaries. There are also some attractive photographs of the performers.

The disc is divided into eight sections. This is not the first time that the ill-fated Queen has given her name to a CD. On Chandos (CHAN 0529) The Scottish Early Music Consort do a similar thing. It’s quite handy because Mary’s life was not just spent in Scottish or English courts but in France where music was thriving in the early sixteenth century. The Flautadors begin with ‘Alas, a lass’ which consists of one beautiful traditional, unaccompanied Scottish tune. Following that is ‘Mary’s Infancy’ 1542-8 and then her ‘First years in France’ 1548-61, where she obtained her schooling. The next section is ‘Queen of France’ 1558. Then her life takes her ‘Over the Water’, also 1558, which moves into ‘Reform’ and then ‘Welcomed in Edinburgh’ 1561. The longest section, happily, is ‘Touring and Dancing’ 1561-8 of which she was very fond and for which she was much criticized by the tiresome John Knox. ‘Politick’ comes next 1568-87 and finally in ‘My end is my beginning’ 1587. There is also a valedictory poem called ‘Fotheringay’ by the Queen herself. To go to the castle now is to find nothing except bare earth and some rough stones where the poor lamented queen passed her final days. The nearby church, although reduced in size, is still superbly perpendicular.

Although played on recorders the music is not all secular as there are a few sacred pieces such as David Peebles’ setting of Psalm 1. If you want the sacred music associated with Mary and composers like Carver and John Black you should search out an ASV disc (GAU 136) recorded by Capella Nova where the Black and Peebles pieces can be heard in their texted versions.

There are a wide variety of styles represented. Amongst the most attractive pieces are Pierre Certon’s chanson La, la, la je ne l’ose dire that the King’s Singers used to regularly do many years ago. Also Ghizeghem’s simple but famous De tous biens playne followed by Agricola’s typically fantastic variant on it. Departe, Departe was recorded with its text on the Chandos disc mentioned above as was the memorable song Richt soir opprest and, what appears to be a rather didactic piece but is in fact a happy little Galliard Ane Exempill of Tripla. There are two Bransles d’Ecosse by Arbeau to be found in his wonderful book on dancing Orchesography of 1589 but obviously earlier in date. There is a reminder of the Roman Catholic music of Scotland, which was close to Mary’s heart, in a rendition of Robert Johnson’s Deus misereatur nostri, a motet using Psalm 67, which you can hear in its texted version on another ASV disc (GAU 154) by Cappella Nova under Alan Tavener.

One characteristic of Scottish music - especially of this period - is found in many places but especially in the Sanctus which may be from the hand of Robert Carver and also in the song Richt soir is that as you listen you appear to be in a major key but occasionally a triad on the flattened seventh appears. This gives a special feel to some of these pieces.

Claude Goudimel who was a Huguenot composer firstly of chansons and later of hymns and psalm settings (as his Psalm 113 here) who was slaughtered in August 1572 at the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre. Hudson, represented by the jolly Hutchesoun’s Galyiard, is an otherwise unknown figure who worked at the Scottish Court and was known as a viol player. James Launder, whose elegant Golden Pavan we hear, worked closely with Mary whilst she was imprisoned and acted as her spy. Hayne Van Ghizeghem was one of the most important of the Burgundian court composers of three generations previous but whose music was still well known. His De tous bien playne was particularly famous.

The ensemble work of the Flautadors is always masterful, tuning is perfect and balance faultless. These are far from easy things to achieve even with professionals. So, an enjoyable disc, nicely presented and beautifully played.

Gary Higginson

An enjoyable disc, nicely presented and beautifully played.