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Thomas Tomkins: Pavan No. 1
Pavan No. 1
Thomas Tomkins: Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom
Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom
Thomas Tomkins: Hear my prayer, O Lord, and with thine ears
Hear my prayer, O Lord, and with thine ears
Thomas Tomkins: The heavens declare
The heavens declare
Thomas Tomkins: The Fifth Service
The Fifth Service: Te Deum
Thomas Tomkins: A Fancy
The Fifth Service
The Fifth Service: Jubilate
Thomas Tomkins: O Lord, how manifold are thy works
O Lord, how manifold are thy works
Thomas Tomkins: Pavan No. 7
Pavan No. 7
Thomas Tomkins: I heard a voice from heaven
I heard a voice from heaven
The Fifth Service
The Fifth Service: Magnificat
Thomas Tomkins: Pavan, "for these distracted times"
Pavan, "for these distracted times"
The Fifth Service
The Fifth Service: Nunc dimittis
Thomas Tomkins: Pavan No. 8
Pavan No. 8
Thomas Tomkins: Remember me, O Lord
Remember me, O Lord
Thomas Tomkins: When David heard
When David heard
Thomas Tomkins: I will lift up mine eyes
I will lift up mine eyes
“A new label, Obsidian, launches with a collection of vocal music by Thomas Tomkins who, while renowned in his day, is now rather less fashionable than his mentor William Byrd. This disc should do much for Tomkins’s reputation. The performances fairly glow, and so does one’s spirit after traversing this glorious programme.
No surprise at the deeply felt playing of Fretwork, but the Choir of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, is new to me. They sing with as much sensitivity and soul as many more famous rivals. The vocal ensemble Alamire are marvellously balanced and they boast one heck of a bass in Robert Macdonald.
That Tomkins could compose such sublime music living at the same time that Oliver Cromwell cracked down on choral music is astonishing”
“The career of Thomas Tomkins straddled several reigns as well as the Cromwell era and this had an impact on his music, which otherwise reflects the influence of his mentor, William Byrd. Vocal textures are varied, clear and satisfying; the instrumental works, too, exude sanity in what were turbulent times. Tomkins favoured the solo bass voice, which introduces four of the sacred choral works here, though others contain ravishing, if brief, duets for tenors and sopranos. Best known is the lament on the death of Absalom, which with the verse anthem My help comethfrom the Lord crowns the disc. In the choral works David Skinner has drawn a beautifully blended sound from his Sidney Sussex Chapel Choir of mixed voices; the solo parts are taken by members of both Alamire (the polished male vocal quartet Skinner founded in 2005) and the choir. Although the organ is present as a solo instrument in the title-track and in A Fancy as well as accompanying Alamire in Theheavens declare, Skinner transcribed the organ parts for the Fifth Service and the closing anthem for viol quartet – a liberty he defends in his engaging booklet-notes and which are so sensitively played by members of the renowned Fretwork. The viol music and much of the church music date from Tomkins's time as organist of Worcester Cathedral, which came to an abrupt end in 1647; he composed the 'Sad Pavan' for organ just two weeks after the execution of Charles I in 1649. Once also a Gentleman of the King's Chapel Royal, Tomkins had good reason to feel 'distracted'. Cromwell happens to have been a member of Sidney Sussex College. The college chapel provides a clear and sympathetic acoustic. It's difficult to know whether Tomkins or Cromwell would have been the more surprised. Tomkins would most certainly have been delighted.”
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