Tobias Hume seems to have taken a sternly realistic look at his own life: ‘My Profession being, as my Education hath beene, Armes, the only effeminate part of me hathe beene Musicke.’ It was a theme to which he was to recur, amplifying the division more starkly still: ‘My Life hath beene a Souldier and my idleness addicted to Musicke.’ Effeminacy and idleness are clearly anathema to the fighting soldier that Hume presumably was, though biographical details are thin on the ground. He may have been born around 1565 to 1579. He certainly died in 1645. His petitions show an increasingly decrepit man, one whose balancing of warfare and music-making had not proved gratifyingly rewarding. It’s believed that he served in Sweden, Denmark, Russia and Poland and recent research seems to show that he was Scottish and not, as long believed, English. John Dowland certainly had little time for Hume, calling him ‘a stranger from beyond the seas’.
Two books of his music were published in the first decade of the seventeenth century; The First Part of Ayres or Captain Humes Musicall Humors
in 1605 and the Poeticall Musicke
two years later. The books promote short character and dance pieces as well as pastiches and instrumental lamentation, not forgetting the suggestion of foreign dance patterns - from Poland, for instance, where he had probably served as a soldier. Only five of the 22 tracks are of songs, the remainder being a series of Galliards, Alemains and the like. It’s as well to note here that Concerto Caledonia do absolutely splendid things for Hume. They play with captivating verve, energy and character. The renaissance flute is heard to great advantage in the airy Fain would I change that note
and the bass viol sounds excellent in its solo outing on Be merry a day will come
as does the orpharion that joins it in A Toy.
One can also enjoy the nyckelharpa in several pieces as well as the sound of the lyra d’amore, though what historical evidence there is for their use I can’t say.
Programming ensures that the recital is varied, that the fast Start; The Lady of Sussex delight
, for instance, is followed by a slower but intriguing A Pollish Vilanell
. It’s clearly a villanelle but it’s very doubtful that it’s Polish. The songs are sung with equal fervour and commitment by Thomas Walker who dispatches Hume’s hymn to tobacco with lusty panache and elsewhere is scrupulous to get the right accent in these settings. For all his later despondency, he doesn’t sound especially so in The Souldiers Song
with its trumpet imitations in the vocal line and its celebratory exultation; ‘O this is musicke worth the eare of Jove’.
There’s no doubt that Hume was not above appropriating Dowland’s idiom now and then. A galliard 3
sounds very Dowland-like. However, in the main, where Hume does stray into Dowland’s waters he is proved to be the less analytical and creative artist by some way though often energetic and energising, for sure.
This has all been
done so well that the interpretative and instrumental panache to be heard sometimes even obscures the occasionally threadbare musical invention. Still, this is a fine reclamation and should be thoroughly appealing to the inquisitive.
Previous review: Johan van Veen
A merry conceit: The Q[ueens] delight [1:51]
What greater griefe [4:03]
A Spanish humor: The Lord Hayes favoret [3:45]
Fain would I change that note [2:28]
The virgins muse: The Lady Arbellaes favoret [4:30]
Be merry a day will come/A Toy [1605, 64 (63)]/Ha Couragie [2:19]
A Toy [1605, 52]/A Merry Meeting [2:08]
A Galliard 3 [1:54]
Start: The Lady of Sussex delight [2:03]
A Pollish Vilanell [2:04]
Maister Crasse his Almayne/A Galliard 5 [3:06]
The Earle of Pembrookes Galiard [2:25]
The Souldiers Song [1:39]
The Souldiers Galiard [1:42]
Tickell, Tickell/I Am Falling/Tickle me quickly [3:54]
Captaine Humes Galliard [3:15]
My hope is revived: The Lady of Suffolkes delight [1:55]
Cease leaden slumber: The Queenes New-yeeres gift [4:00]
An Almayne/The Spirit of the Almayne [2:43]
The Dukes Almayne: The Duke of Holstones Delight [1:56]
Give you go[o]d morrowe Madam [1:34]