William BYRD (1539-1623)
Sellenger’s Rownde [5.31]
Tobias HUME (c.1569-1645)
Captain Hume’s Lamentation [6:38]
William LAWES (1605-1645)
Suite No 8 in D major [11:37]
John JENKINS (1592-1678)
Suite No 2 in G minor [11.10]
Christopher SIMPSON (c.1605-1669)
The Little Consort Suite in G minor [12.50]
Thomas BALTZAR (c.1631-1663)
John Come Kiss me now [5.01]
Matthew LOCKE (c.1621-1677)
For Several Friends Suite in B flat Major [7.49]
Henry PURCELL (1659-1695)
Ayres for the Theatre: Overture from Bonduca [4.21]
Slow Air from Distressed Innocence [2.04]
Air fromThe Virtuous Wife [0.36]
Hornpipe on a Ground fromThe Married Beau [1.59]
Dance for the Chinese Man and Woman fromThe Fairy Queen [2.38]
Pavan in B flat Major [3.04]
Hornpipe from Abdelazar - Hole in the Wall [3.34]
Trio Settecento (Rachel Barton Pine (violin): John Mark Rozendaal (viola da gamba): David Schrader (harpsichord and positiv organ))
rec. 1-6 August 2011, Nichols Concert Hall, Music Institute of Chicago, Evanston, Illinois
CEDILLE CDR 90000 135 [79.47]
As Rachel Barton Pine says in her ‘Personal note’, in the detailed and useful booklet, “This is the fourth and last album in Trio Settecento’s series surveying 17th and 18th Century music from different European regions.” I seem to have missed the others. What about you? They are An Italian Sojourn, A German Bouquet and A French Soirée. As a result of hearing this disc I may well look them up.
Trio Settecento play violin, viol da gamba, harpsichord and positiv organ and the booklet gives us much detail on their antecedents. The violin is a replica of a renaissance instrument. Barton Pine who is a well known and virtuosic performer in America explains how the instrument varies from a modern version. Some English music of this period was also written for lyra viol which is a sort of bowed lute. Tobias Hume is something of an eccentric figure but much of his music and Captain Hume’s Lamentation was written for it.
The CD traces a history of consort music from Byrd to Purcell. The former is represented by a transcription a piece from the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book of Sellenger’s Rowndewhich consists of the tune and of eight variants. Other performers have made such transcriptions but this is a little different in that just the three instruments are used. A lack of colour is an obvious ailment compared with a mixed consort. That said, the playing is energetic and fresh and, one feels, quite authentic. There is variety along the way including the odd passage where the violin drops out - as in the whole of variation 6 - or where the melody is moved to a different part.
There is much here to enjoy. William Lawes’ Fantasia Suites are quite extraordinary. A fine complete recording can be found on Harmonia mundi HMC 901423 by London Baroque. The present three movement work enables the listener to enjoy a taste of the composer’s unique style.
John Jenkins is another intriguing figure whose long life produced music that is technically flawless and of a rich and personal quality. Only now is it being fully explored. Listen to Phantasm’s recording of the Five Part consorts on Avie AV2120. The Three movement Suite No. 2 opens with a lengthy and explorative Fantasia. It then drifts into a melodious Air and ends with a Corant.
We are told that if we go onto iTunes we can download a track which didn’t make it onto the CD: a Sonata by another rare voice in English music at the time, one Henry Butler (d.1652), a great virtuoso. I did download it and have to say that I am sorry that space couldn’t have been found for it. We could have had it in place of some of Christopher Simpson’s somewhat workmanlike Suite in G minor. This consists of seven short movements that include a Sarabande which here, and in the example later by Matthew Locke is taken a sprightly pace. The tempo adopted is all right and proper and defies the dismal funereal atmosphere often associated with the form.
Locke was a significant figure who worked for Charles II and other notables. This piece and a Sonata in G minor by Butler can be found on a Harmonia mundi disc from the Newberry Consort (HMC 190713). Like the collection of Locke’s chamber works it is called For Several Friends. There are six movements. Here the opening Fantazie (sic) is the shortest one acting as a curtain-raiser to the longer elegant Pavan which follows. Listen out for Locke’s extraordinary sense of modulation. Anyone with a strong interest in Locke should search out The Parley of Instruments’ disc of Locke’s Broken Consort (Hyperion CDA 66727 reissued as Helios CDH55255).
It’s good to have Thomas Baltzar represented. He was considered a remarkable performer in his day. His variants on John Come Kiss me now are intriguing. As John Mark Rozendaal tells us, in his essay, Baltzar was famous for his multi-stopping, use of the highest register and agility in passagework. Sadly this is not in evidence in any of his surviving compositions but as we are told: “Rachel Barton Pine has adapted this piece to include passages to the seventh position”.
The remainder of the disc is given over to Purcell with extracts from six of his theatre pieces. Apparently he wrote, in all, for some fifty productions; what he achieved in his brief lifetime is almost incalculable. There is also the Pavan in B flat, then out of fashion but written almost as an exercise by the teenage composer.
All in all this is a fascinating and worthwhile collection excellently documented. It offers a varied but consistent over-view of the chamber music available to the 17th Century English house and court.
Each of the three performers is a star and it's good that David Schrader has had a chance to play solo for one of the Purcell pieces: the Overture from the little known Bonduca. John Mark Rozendaal, whose detailed and clear notes I have already mentioned, is no mere supporter on the gamba. The whole enterprise on this generously filled disc is cleverly played and cleanly recorded.
A fascinating and worthwhile collection excellently documented.
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