You were probably as surprised as I was to see the name of
Ivo de Vento as the composer of this year's mass for St
Augustine's Kilburn, though the New Grove manages to fill almost
a page with information (and a certain amount of speculation) about
him. Look under Vento rather than de Vento. After three years as a
choirboy in Munich he was sent at Duke Albrecht's expense to study
in Venice, presumably with Merulo. Back in Munich where he was appointed
third organist in the Hofkapelle he may have studied with Lassus whose
influence may be seen in his masses. Michael Procter is very enthusiastic
about the mass Surrexit pastor bonus which is based on a motet
by Lassus (which we will also sing). He has edited it specially for
our weekend. This course always fills up so please book as soon as
Michael has asked me to give you some extra information about the
weekend. St Augustine's is an Anglican church, but its musical tradition
and the warm welcome given to the TVEMF choir each year mean a chance
really to experience how the music ought to be used. This is nowadays
a rare opportunity for performing Renaissance sacred music in something
like the appropriate context because the regular EEMF course 'Early
Music in the Liturgy' in Cambridge has come to an end, at least for
the time being, because of a new priest who finds such music inappropriate
Michael Procter has lived in Germany since 1995, when he took over
as Professor of Choral Conducting in Karlsruhe for his colleague Martin
Schmidt during his sabbatical - and has stuck there ever since.
He writes that he and his family enjoy the climate (bananas and oleanders),
the wine (Baden and Pfalz) and the excellent connections all over
Europe, but he comes back to England several times a year for courses
and workshops, and to refresh his English language, which he says
is suffering horribly from living abroad. You will find his other
courses and contact details in the Events listings at the back.
Last month, sponsorship forms were circulated with Tamesis for my
group Background Baroque's three hour sonata marathon in aid of Comic
Relief on Red Nose Day. Many thanks to everybody who returned them
and for your generous contributions. If you still have your form because
you don't know where to send it (the computer somehow deleted that
bit) it is not too late to send it to me now (at the address on the
front cover). We managed to play 27 sonatas in the available time,
so if you have sponsored us per sonata I would be grateful if you
could send me a cheque, made out to "Comic Relief", for the appropriate
amount. We hope we have raised at least £1000.
I was surprised that we managed to play so many sonatas, particularly
as some of them had five or six movements. In fact it took us an hour
and a quarter to play the first nine, but after that we became more
efficient at deciding what to play and giving out the music so if
we had done that at the beginning we might possibly have reached our
maximum target of 30. Next time...? There was a certain amount of
hair-raising sight-reading but no disasters, even though our fingers
were rather too cold for fast semi-quavers. Luckily a member of the
church had kindly sponsored us to have the heating on or we should
have had to play much more slowly! Many thanks to everyone who took
part either by playing or by collecting money, moving instruments
and counting the sonatas (which were by Weiss, Naudot, Schickhardt,
Boismortier, Telemann, Rossi, Loeillet, Dornel, Corelli and Finger).
It's over 40 years since I bought my first
treble recorder and taught myself to play it using the School Recorder
Books. Having more or less worked my way through book three, I went
into the local music shop and asked what they had for solo recorder.
As there was little choice, I came out with Telemann's sonata in C
major from Der Getreue Musicmeister, a work which I find challenging
even today. After much study I could manage it at about half speed,
but then I discovered the companion sonata in F major was much easier
and I became a lifelong Telemann addict. My first contact with other
recorder players came at a London SRP meeting in 1964 and showed that
whilst I might be able to play notes reasonably fluently, my sight-reading
had a long way to go. I joined John Thomson's evening class in Marylebone
and eventually became capable of holding a part in a consort. John,
who subsequently became editor of The Recorder Magazine and
(more successfully) of Early Music, was one of the founders
of the National Early Music Association, and remained its President
until his untimely death a few years ago. He was a delightful New
Zealander whose patience and encouragement were much appreciated.
Recordings of early music were not very plentiful in those days, and
my first such record was of music by Telemann, made in the 1950s by
a variety of artists including Ferdinand Conrad who played the Partita
in G major quite beautifully. A little later I was given a record
of the New York Pro Musica playing dances from Terpsichore
by Praetorius and A la Battaglia by Isaac on recorders, crumhorms
and racketts. The instruments were such a novelty that on the second
side they were demonstrated individually. Coincidentally, Chris Thorn,
our former Tamesis editor, says he also bought this record and like
me found it a revelation.
Why am I telling you this? Mainly because I sometimes
marvel how much things have changed over those 40 years. Now there
are concerts of early music almost every day and it is no surprise
to hear it on the radio. We used to have performances on "authentic"
instruments (often anachronistic by hundred years or more) where now
we have "historically informed" performances. In the early days there
was the famous broadcast when Tom Crowe asserted that cornetts could
not be played in tune. Whilst some of my friends might still be inclined
to believe this, those who have heard any of today's professional
cornett and sackbut ensembles know better.
However the battle is by no means won. Yes, these days we can hear
Bach, Handel, Vivaldi and Telemann any week on the radio but the further
back we go the rarer it is to hear anything at all. Of the 17th century
we sometimes find Purcell, Monteverdi and of course the blessed Pachelbel,
canonised by Classic Fm, but where are Biber, Buxtehude, Lully and
the rest? When it comes to the 16th century you may hear some Gabrieli
if you are very lucky and composers such as Byrd and Tallis might
feature in Choral Evensong. From the 15th century I can recall hearing
a bit of Josquin, but Dufay, Ockeghem, Isaac and Obrecht hardly ever.
When Nicholas Kenyon was appointed controller of Radio Three a few
years ago I thought we would see an improvement, given that he was
a former editor of Early Music, but in fact the situation seemed
to deteriorate or am I imagining it? My feeling is that it is mainly
we amateurs who cherish the music from earlier times. Is that because
this music is better experienced from the musician's perspective or
should Guerrero and Brumel simply be looking for a different agent?
Gill Trethowan has been included above because last month's
details did not really represent her interests. She writes: "My main
'thing'is baroque oboe - I would now class myself as f=fair. I am
interested in Baroque opera & Iconography." Gill is
keen to find other people to play with, so do get in touch with her
if you would like to play with a baroque oboe. I used to think that
my own details in the members' list did not represent my interests
very well because the computer could only produce them in one particular
order. I mentioned this to David who immediately changed the order
– thank you very much David. He says that for many years
the order has been entirely flexible. For new members he uses the
order they give and for some existing members he has re-ordered things.
If anyone wants to change the order they simply have to ask.
Three excellent limericks from your recent competition have appeared
in our latest newsletter. As they all related to the composer Scheidt,
I was reminded of my own entry for our own limerick competition some
years ago. It appeared in our anthology of which you may have a copy,
but if not, here it is for what it's worth:
An early musician named Dwight
Insisted the pitch must be right
Whilst it mustn't relax
In the music of Bax
It may go down in the Scheidt.
The anthology, which contained some 40 entries,
was printed as the result of a MEMF competition in 1991 and called
'Ye Olde MEMFE Limericke Booke'.
John Bason, MEMF
A tenor recorder for small hands
In the February issue of Tamesis, Carole Shaw asked for a tenor
recorder suitable for small hands. I am grateful to Madeline
Seviour for sending the following information:
Zen-On Model 2000B.
I don't know if this is still on the market - I bought mine in the
late 1970s. I think the wood is maple. The instrument is light;
the holes are non-aligned and cut at quite an angle. And when I
bought mine it was incredibly cheap. The tone and tuning are good.
1. Single key for bottom C (though I believe there is a more expensive
model with double C/C# key).
2. Mine came with thumb-rest screwed into position. Luckily it was
all right for me, but others might not be so lucky.
3. The exterior is stained a horrid orange colour and varnished!
TVEMF workshop-William Mundy
Some 50 enthusiasts gathered at The Church of the Holy Innocents,
Paddenswick Road on 15th
February to extend their acquaintance
with the work of William Mundy, who is distinguished (quite apart
from the quality of his musical output) by the fact that the article
about him in Grove
gives five other spellings of his name.
It is perhaps not fanciful to speculate that the Latin epigram "Ut
lucem solis sequitur lux proxima luna, sic tu post Birdum Munde
secunde venit" printed at the end of "Sive Vigilem" owes its origin
to the variant spelling "Moondaye".
I suspect that very few of us had ever sung anything by William
Mundy except "O Lord, the Maker", which is in the Tudor Anthem book.
With hindsight, it might have been more satisfactory to begin with
that relatively well-known piece, because the Arctic conditions
in the church (due to a broken window), combined with some uncertainty
in singing the plainchant sections of the Kyrie "Orbis Factor" combined
to create rather heavy going in our attempts to master that item,
with which we began the programme.
, in a rather sniffy article, gives "O Lord the Maker"
and "O Lord I bow the knee", which we also studied, the muted accolade
of being "of some interest", but describes Sive vigilem and Beatus
et sanctus as "two striking pieces"; and certainly we seemed to
approach Sive vigilem with more confidence and a greater sense of
enjoyment. Refreshed by lunch (at any rate in the case of those
who repaired to The Thatched House), we returned to the warmer ambience
of the church hall to tackle Adolescentulus sum ego. Fortunately,
the percussion obbligato provided by the energetic activities of
the children in the room above did not prove too distracting, though
a short oxygen break was found to be necessary.
Tea was followed by a return to the church for a sing through which,
apart from some uncertainties in the Kyrie, made a very satisfactory
end to an interesting and rewarding occasion, for which we are all
grateful to Alistair Dixon and the organisers. There is no doubt
that many of us would enjoy a further exploration of Mundy, perhaps
in combination with another of his contemporaries whose music we
rarely get the chance to sing.
News of Members' Activities
will be giving an organ recital entitled
"The Iberian Golden Age"
on Saturday 29 March at
8pm at the Grosvenor Chapel, South Audley Street, London W1 as part
of the British Clavichord Society study day on Iberian music. The
recital, of c
olourful and exciting music from the
16th and 17th centuries by Antonio de Cabezón, Sebastian Aguilera
de Heredia, Francisco Correa de Arauxo, Pablo Bruna and Pedro de
Araujo, features distinctive ‘medio registro’ compositions
and a dramatic battle scene and is played on the 1991 Drake organ.
Admission £8 (£5 BCS members/concessions)
Tickets: 020 8341 4700 or www.bcs.nildram.co.uk