Jacob van EYCK (1589/90-1657)

Around Jacob van Eyck
1 Bravade and Franse Courante - Jacob van Eyck/Nicolas Vallet [2:17]
2 Doen Daphne d’over schoone maeght - Jacob van Eyck/Jan Janszoon Starter [10:10]
3 Onder de linde groene/The Lord Souches Maske - Jacob van Eyck/Thomas Morley/Giles Farnaby [2:24]
4 Engels Nachtegaeltje - Jacob van Eyck [4:36]
5 Ballet Gravesand - Jacob van Eyck/Nicolas Vallet [1:58]
6 The Nightingale - Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck [1:44]
7 Amarilli mia bella - Jacob van Eyck/Giulio Caccini [3:27]
8 Amarilli mia bella - I.H. (Iacobus Haffner?) Uitnement Kabinet [2:53]
9 Prins Robberts Masco - Jacob van Eyck/I.H. (Iacobus Haffner?) [2:29]
10 Daphne – Anonymous (British Library) London 17th century [1:20]
11 Puer nobis nascitur - Jacob van Eyck [3:01]
12 Den Nachtegael - I.H. (Iacobus Haffner?) [1:40]
13 Pavane Lachrimae-| Jacob van Eyck/John Dowland [2:01]
14 Lachrimae Antiquae/Flow my tears - John Dowland [3:19]
15 Fantasia en echo - Jacob van Eyck [2:21]
16 Come again - Jacob van Eyck [0:36]
17 Come again - John Dowland [2:05]
18 Come again - Anonymous with ‘De Goodenfluyt Hemel’ [1:01]
19 Come again - John Dowland [2:16]
20 Verdwaelde koninghin - Jacob van Eyck [1:34]
21 Puer nobis nascitur -| Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck [3:07]
22 Questa dolce sirena - Jacob van Eyck/Giovanni Gastoldi [2:03]
23 La Sirena - Giovanni Gastoldi [1:34]
24 Questa dolce sirena - Marco Uccellini [2:36]
25 Onse Vader in Hemelryck - Jacob van Eyck [6:29]
26 Boffons -| Jacob van Eyck/Passamezzo Antiquo [2:06]
Ardalus Ensemble/Karen Ketels
rec. May 2010, Protestant Church Korsele-Horebeke
Texts in original languages; no translations
PHAEDRA PH92068 [71:21]

This is a slightly curious but well compiled disc from a group new to the scene. It’s also quite a well titled disc as ‘Around Jacob van Eyck’ is, as will be seen, precisely what it’s about. But before that, two questions will spring to the mind. Why ‘around’ and who is Jacob van Eyck? He was born in 1589/90 in what is now the Dutch province of North Brabant. Blind from birth, he became interested in carillons and by 1625 he was appointed ‘carillonneur’ at Utrecht cathedral, later become ‘director of the bells’. He was clearly gifted scientifically because he made a study of bell shape and resultant sound. In addition to bells he was a virtuoso recorder player, and he was even given a stipend to play the recorder around St. John’s churchyard, so brilliant was his playing and so well appreciated was it. He compiled three popular and well regarded flute volumes. He sounds like a character well worth spending some time with, and when he died, in 1657, the Utrecht bells tolled three hours for him.

There are 26 separate tracks on this disc, but only a small amount is original music by van Eyck. The remainder consists of arrangements by him, or pieces by other established composers, to suggest the musical milieu in which he flourished. Further complication is provided by the arrangements that Jan Devlieger has provided of five pieces – tracks 2, 3, 9, 22 and 26.

The Ardalus Ensemble is a lively group. Sarah Abrams is the soprano, Stefaan Smagghe the fiddle player. A large burden is shouldered by artistic director Karen Ketels, who takes the van Eyck role as recorder player; she plays sopranino, soprano, alto and tenor recorders. Devlieger is the percussionist who also plays recorders and the virginal. Nathalie Fransen plays lute, theorbo and also recorder, whilst Rebecca Lefèvre is the viola da gamba player. They are fine players and deserve a name-check.

Van Eyck took well-known and loved tunes and spun virtuoso roulades around them, and these variations were popular from the 1640s onwards. Thus the disc offers a sort of life-and-times to van Eyck, who has by no means been ignored on disc in the past. The results are plausible and attractive. Abrams has a silvery soprano - a most attractive, pure voice. Ketels proves an athletic and virtuosic recorder player – with tonal warmth especially evident on the tenor and splendid articulation in the higher instruments. Her solo performances – mellifluous in Puer nobis nascitur, dextrous in the echo effects in van Eyck’s Fantasia – are laudable. The various ‘versions’ of certain works are intriguing to hear. Dowland’s Come Again is heard in four versions – solo recorder, lute, two recorders, and consort. Elsewhere the more earthy music is well accommodated, such as Lord Souches Maske, where the strings ensure that the music is not too refined.

Dutch music of the time would be the poorer without van Eyck’s clever and attractive settings. This disc gives us a sense of European musical currency in the first half of the seventeenth century.

Jonathan Woolf

Dutch music would be the poorer without van Eyck’s clever and attractive settings.