William CORKINE (fl. 1610-1617)
Each Lovely Grace - The Second Booke of Ayres (1612)
Prelude (1) (Lyra-viol) [1:39]
Shall a smile [2:14]
Fly swift my thoughts [1:23]
Pavin (Lyra-viol) (2nd tuning) [5:14]
Downe, downe proud minde [3:44]
Away, away [1:46]
Mounsiers Almaine (Lyra-viol) [3:30]
Prelude (2) (Lyra-viol) [0:33]
Goe heavy thoughts [4:37]
Almaine (Lyra-viol) (2nd tuning) [4:59]
Coranto (2) [1:26]
Two Lovers sat lamenting [3:58]
’Tis true, ’tis day [4:10]
If my Complaints (Lyra-viol) [3:08]
Coranto (1) [1:29]
Man like a Prophet of ensuing yeeres [2:41]
Shall I be with joyes deceived? [1:11]
Each lovely grace [2:50]
The Punckes delight (Lyra-viol) [1:44]
Beware faire Maides [5:39]
Come live with me and be my Love (Lyra-viol) [3:54]
My deerest Mistrisse [0:54]
Walsingham (Lyra-viol) [2:45]
As by a fountaine chast Diana sate [1:15]
Cantar alla Viola (Nadine Balbeisi (soprano); Fernando Marín (viola da gamba, lyra-viol))
rec. 6-9 June 2011, Church of Santa Maria di Siurana, Spain. DDD
NIMBUS NI6173 [76:45]
William Corkine’s biography is exiguous: even his dates of birth and death are uncertain. One can obviously suggest he was a contemporary of Dowland though probably a younger one given that his Second Book of Ayres was published nine years after Dowland’s third set of songs. One can also note that he had an acute ear for poetry. Among the poems he set are Donne’s Break of Day and ’Tis true, ’tis day, what though it be? and Sidney’s The Fire to see my woes for anger burneth though none is contained in this 1612 set. Like Dowland, Corkine was a lutenist, and he also played the viol and an instrument for which English aristocracy harboured a fondness, the lyra-viol. Another conjunction with Dowland is that he left his native country to work abroad, leaving for Poland in 1617. After that there seems very little known.
His first set of Ayres was published in 1610, the second two years later. As the notes make clear this later set contains eighteen songs for voice and accompanying bass viol. Of these thirteen have just a bass line to go on. There is also a collection of Lyra Viol lessons at the end of this second book, one for two lyra viol and eleven lessons for solo instrument. In this disc, one of the very few ever to have been devoted solely to Corkine’s music — some of his songs are included in anthologies, as are some of the instrumental works — we hear all the songs and all the solo lyra lessons.
The recital was recorded in the Church of Santa Maria di Siurana but sufficient care has been taken to ensure that there is clarity and detail in the sound, whilst also acknowledging the natural bloom and decay of the acoustic. Sometimes the lower notes of the viola can boom, and obstruct the vocal line.
Corkine was an elegant stylist, reserved, moderate, not inclined to showy declamation or to plumb the greater depths (or heights) of love and loss. His muse remains on an even keel, the music remaining refined and moderate, aware of constraint and the appropriate emotive temperature for each song. The accompaniment is supportive and never graphic or explicatory. The songs remain predominantly slow, and in truth lack Dowland’s gift of invention, phrasal richness and textual interplay. These, by contrast, are more pedestrian in their sense of colour and response to text.
It’s of some interest that he sets so many active texts; words like ‘down’, ‘fly’, and ‘away’ are frequent in the poems, and familiar from poetry of the time, but it’s curious that his response to such potential vitality is so inert. Much is cast in the melancholy vein of the time, but there’s one number that shows his command of a fruitier vernacular, Away, away, which is a typical instruction to a maid to put aside the modesty ‘that hides/The chieftest Jemme of Nature.’ Here Corkine gets up to tempo and banishes restraint, as well he might given the poem’s lascivious parade of tongues, hymens, girdles, veils and the like.
Elsewhere, as long as one appreciates Corkine’s deliberate expressive reserve, there are plenty of things to admire and enjoy. Two lovers sat lamenting doesn’t stimulate him to shudder at the words ‘silent moane’ or to colour the accompanying line with any allusive commentary; the music remains steadfast, refined, stoic in its avoidance of frivolity.
The instrumental music includes the expected dance forms of Pavan, Courante and the like, though here spelled, as per the printed original Pavin and Coranto. These also reflect the qualities of intense reserve but also fugitive humour. The puckes delight, which is one of his best known viol pieces, is unusually rustic with its drone effect and flowing, hugely engaging energy. It’s a suitable foil for the stately reserve of the other movements.
Nadine Balbeisi and Fernando Marín perform with studied intelligence. The soprano adopts what is assumed to be the correct pronunciation, whilst Marín carries out his dual function as accompanying viola da gamba player and solo lyra-violist with thoughtful care as to registrations. Corkine’s music has been well realised.
Jonathan Woolf

Corkine’s music has been well realised.