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David Skinner|Motets from a Royal Choirbook (British Library, MS Roy. 11.e.xi)

Motets from a Royal Choirbook (British Library, MS Roy. 11.e.xi)

Henry’s Music

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It's well known that King Henry VIII was a composer, but he's generally represented by one or two pieces on collections of English Renaissance music rather than being treated as the central figure in a flourishing artistic culture. Exactly how much music he wrote is a matter of dispute, but this disc by the English vocal group Alamire and wind consort QuintEssential, with harpist Andrew Lawrence-King, presents a generous sampling of nine vocal and instrumental pieces (although Pastime with Good Company, recorded by musicians as recent as Jethro Tull, is omitted), along with music written for Henry by other composers. These are perhaps the most interesting and unusual, especially the group of six Motets from a Royal Choirbook (tracks 7-12). Four of these are the product of a composer known only as Sampson, and, more curiously still, thought to be German. Check out the canonic Salve radix (track 7), whose lovely score is reproduced on the back of the booklet; the spiral shape of the score is replicated in the piece's harmonic motion. The setting, likewise by the elusive Sampson, of the Quam pulcra es text from the Song of Songs, is termed by director and annotator David Skinner "with its erotic ovetones . . . an odd inclusion in this royal gift" (the choirbook was a gift to Henry and Catherine of Aragon), although one can think of plenty of reasons Henry and his outsized personality might have inspired such a decision. The works by Henry himself might be described as competent but simple; the program as a whole defines a nice contrast between imposing sacred pieces and a secular sphere in which the king could musically hold his own. The performances of the 12-voice mixed-gender adult choir Alamire (named for the compiler of the motet book) are among the best available in this repertory; the group conveys the quality of free fantasy, counterbalanced by complex abstraction, in the music and avoids the ponderousness that often turns large works like Fayrfax's concluding Lauda vivi alpha et o into undifferentiated blobs. All in all, a fine addition to English Renaissance collections.
© TiVo

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Motets from a Royal Choirbook (British Library, MS Roy. 11.e.xi)

David Skinner

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Christe Jesu pastor bone (John Taverner)

1
Christe Jesu, pastor bone
Andrew Lawrence-King
00:02:49

Quintessential - Alamire - David Skinner, conductor

(C) 2009 Obsidian (P) 2009 Obsidian

King's Pavan (Anonyme)

2
King's Pavan
Andrew Lawrence-King
00:01:31

Quintessential - Alamire - David Skinner, conductor

(C) 2009 Obsidian (P) 2009 Obsidian

England be glad (Anonyme)

3
England be glad
Andrew Lawrence-King
00:02:04

Quintessential - Alamire - David Skinner, conductor

(C) 2009 Obsidian (P) 2009 Obsidian

Consort No. 12 (Henry VIII)

4
Consort No. 12
Andrew Lawrence-King
00:01:00

Quintessential - Alamire - David Skinner, conductor

(C) 2009 Obsidian (P) 2009 Obsidian

Madame d'Amours

5
Madame d'amours
Andrew Lawrence-King
00:03:45

Quintessential - Alamire - David Skinner, conductor

(C) 2009 Obsidian (P) 2009 Obsidian

Taunder naken a 3 (Henry VIII)

6
Tandernaken
Andrew Lawrence-King
00:02:17

Quintessential - Alamire - David Skinner, conductor

(C) 2009 Obsidian (P) 2009 Obsidian

Salve radix

7
Salve Radix
Andrew Lawrence-King
00:02:18

Quintessential - Alamire - David Skinner, conductor

(C) 2009 Obsidian (P) 2009 Obsidian

Psallite felices

8
Psallite felices
Andrew Lawrence-King
00:10:00

Quintessential - Alamire - David Skinner, conductor

(C) 2009 Obsidian (P) 2009 Obsidian

Sub tuum praesidium (Benedictus de Opitiis)

9
Sub tuum praesidium
Andrew Lawrence-King
00:03:35

Quintessential - Alamire - David Skinner, conductor

(C) 2009 Obsidian (P) 2009 Obsidian

Quam pulcra est

10
Quam pulcra est
Andrew Lawrence-King
00:04:25

Quintessential - Alamire - David Skinner, conductor

(C) 2009 Obsidian (P) 2009 Obsidian

Hec est praeclarum vas (Anonyme)

11
Hec est praeclarum vas
Andrew Lawrence-King
00:02:51

Quintessential - Alamire - David Skinner, conductor

(C) 2009 Obsidian (P) 2009 Obsidian

Beati omnes qui timent Dominum (Jacotin)

12
Beati omnes qui timent Dominum
Andrew Lawrence-King
00:05:31

Quintessential - Alamire - David Skinner, conductor

(C) 2009 Obsidian (P) 2009 Obsidian

Consort No. 13 (Henry VIII)

13
Consort No. 13
Andrew Lawrence-King
00:00:50

Quintessential - Alamire - David Skinner, conductor

(C) 2009 Obsidian (P) 2009 Obsidian

O my hart and O my hart

14
O my hart and O my hart
Andrew Lawrence-King
00:01:01

Quintessential - Alamire - David Skinner, conductor

(C) 2009 Obsidian (P) 2009 Obsidian

Helas madam (Henry VIII)

15
Helas madam
Andrew Lawrence-King
00:01:14

Quintessential - Alamire - David Skinner, conductor

(C) 2009 Obsidian (P) 2009 Obsidian

Though sum saith that yough rulyth me

16
Though sum saith That yough rulyth me
Andrew Lawrence-King
00:03:35

Quintessential - Alamire - David Skinner, conductor

(C) 2009 Obsidian (P) 2009 Obsidian

Nil majus superi vident (Philippe Verdelot)

17
Nil majus superi vident
Andrew Lawrence-King
00:03:32

Quintessential - Alamire - David Skinner, conductor

(C) 2009 Obsidian (P) 2009 Obsidian

Consort No. 8 (Henry VIII)

18
Consort No. 8
Andrew Lawrence-King
00:01:12

Quintessential - Alamire - David Skinner, conductor

(C) 2009 Obsidian (P) 2009 Obsidian

Adieu madame

19
Adieu Madame
Andrew Lawrence-King
00:04:27

Quintessential - Alamire - David Skinner, conductor

(C) 2009 Obsidian (P) 2009 Obsidian

En vray amoure (Henry VIII)

20
En vray amoure
Andrew Lawrence-King
00:01:11

Quintessential - Alamire - David Skinner, conductor

(C) 2009 Obsidian (P) 2009 Obsidian

Lauda vivi alpha (Robert Fayrfax)

21
Lauda vivi alpha
Andrew Lawrence-King
00:16:28

Quintessential - Alamire - David Skinner, conductor

(C) 2009 Obsidian (P) 2009 Obsidian

Album Description

It's well known that King Henry VIII was a composer, but he's generally represented by one or two pieces on collections of English Renaissance music rather than being treated as the central figure in a flourishing artistic culture. Exactly how much music he wrote is a matter of dispute, but this disc by the English vocal group Alamire and wind consort QuintEssential, with harpist Andrew Lawrence-King, presents a generous sampling of nine vocal and instrumental pieces (although Pastime with Good Company, recorded by musicians as recent as Jethro Tull, is omitted), along with music written for Henry by other composers. These are perhaps the most interesting and unusual, especially the group of six Motets from a Royal Choirbook (tracks 7-12). Four of these are the product of a composer known only as Sampson, and, more curiously still, thought to be German. Check out the canonic Salve radix (track 7), whose lovely score is reproduced on the back of the booklet; the spiral shape of the score is replicated in the piece's harmonic motion. The setting, likewise by the elusive Sampson, of the Quam pulcra es text from the Song of Songs, is termed by director and annotator David Skinner "with its erotic ovetones . . . an odd inclusion in this royal gift" (the choirbook was a gift to Henry and Catherine of Aragon), although one can think of plenty of reasons Henry and his outsized personality might have inspired such a decision. The works by Henry himself might be described as competent but simple; the program as a whole defines a nice contrast between imposing sacred pieces and a secular sphere in which the king could musically hold his own. The performances of the 12-voice mixed-gender adult choir Alamire (named for the compiler of the motet book) are among the best available in this repertory; the group conveys the quality of free fantasy, counterbalanced by complex abstraction, in the music and avoids the ponderousness that often turns large works like Fayrfax's concluding Lauda vivi alpha et o into undifferentiated blobs. All in all, a fine addition to English Renaissance collections.
© TiVo

Details of original recording : 66:51 - DDD - Enregistré en 2008 - Notes en anglais

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