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Music from the reign of King James I
Westminster Abbey has been the focus of British royal occasions for centuries, and the early seventeenth century saw the most dazzling musicians of the age writing music for the Court in all its various incarnations. This fascinating disc presents a selection of works from the reign of King James I.
The most celebrated name on this disc is that of Orlando Gibbons, and some of his most masterly works are presented here including the gloriously contrapuntal O clap your hands and the startlingly original verse anthem See, see, the Word is incarnate, setting an extraordinary text which covers the whole of the liturgical year.
The most eloquent and emotionally intense music recorded here was most likely never intended for performance in the Abbey, or any other church, but has a particularly Royal relevance. The laments of King David were set by many composers of this period. These moving texts have no place in the liturgy, being neither part of the Ordinary of Psalms and canticles, nor able to furnish a seasonally appropriate or devotional anthem. Their composition seems therefore to have been a response to the death in November 1612 of the Prince of Wales, Prince Henry. These are courtly laments, in which the composers give voice – and perhaps vied to give voice most eloquently – to the grief of the King (in the settings of David’s lament for his son Absalom) and Prince Charles (in the ‘Jonathan’ pieces, in which the king describes his friend as ‘my brother’). Included is the best known of all the ‘Absalom’ pieces, Tomkins’s When David heard, together with his equally moving ‘Jonathan’ setting, Then David mourned.
“Where words and music most happily merge - for instance in Gibbons's Hosanna to the Son of David - the director and his vocalists exude confidence, animating melodic lines gracefully to reach a satisfying climax. In the largely contrapuntal O clap your hands, O'Donnell's deft handling of voices brings a lovely delicacy to the texture.” BBC Music Magazine, March 2011 ***
“The laments by Tomkins and Ramsey, and Gibbons's "O Lord, in thy wrath", all sung unaccompanied, are moving in their intensity...this recording should be snapped up by all lovers of the period.” Gramophone Magazine, April 2011
“The hero of the disc is...the Abbey's sub-organist Robert Quinney...Stylish, tastefully registered and crisply delivered [the four Gibbons organ pieces] are in their way true gems...many choirs would envy the tight ensemble, impeccable intonation and crystal-clear diction, not to mention the unfailingly excellent solo voices drawn from the ranks of the choir” International Record Review, March 2011
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Byrd to Blow: The English Baroque Organ
On this CD, Robin Walker performs works by Byrd, Bull, Gibbons, Tomkins, Purcell and Blow on the organ of St. Giles-in-the-Fields, London. The instrument reflects its life over the last two and a half centuries and is suitable for a wide range of repertoire. Robin enjoys a busy and varied musical career as performer, conductor, teacher and church musician.
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Peace on Earth
Sacred and secular music by Orlando Gibbons
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Orlando Gibbons - Harpsichord Works
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Gibbons: Consort And Keyboard Music, Songs And Anthems
“The whole assortment makes an ideal introduction to one of England's finest composers.…” BBC Music Magazine
“Beautifully performed and finely recorded, this selection of Gibbons's music is especially attractive for its variety. At its richest it presents writing for voice and viols combined, five parts to each, or for viols alone, sometimes in six parts. In lightest, most transparent texture there's a charming piece for two viols. Three keyboard instruments are used for solos: virginals, harpsichord and organ. A soprano also sings solos to viol accompaniment. Moods and styles vary correspondingly. The Masks and Alman for virginals have a high-spirited, almost popular manner; the Fifth Fantasia includes some unusual chromaticism and harmonic developments that for a while almost anticipate Purcell.
Tessa Bonner sings with unvibrant purity; but most striking here is the pronunciation.
It's one of the distinguishing marks of this curiously named group, Red Byrd, that they sing such music with vowel sounds modified to fit theories about the English in which it would originally have been sung. Thus the 'daintie fine bird' tells 'oi sing and doy', and the 'u' acquires a sort of umlaut in I weigh not fortune'sfrown, 'weigh' and 'frown' also having a measure of rusticity. Perhaps it's a good idea, but it does increase the desirability of printed texts in the booklet.
The instrumental music is finely played, the viols avoiding any imputation of belonging to the squeeze-and-scrape school, and Timothy Roberts's keyboard solos are particularly skilful, in legato and fluency.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
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