Tamesis Issue 268
What a lovely summer we’re having! I notice forecasted to start raining just in time for me to go to the Beauchamp summer school, but luckily they have bedrooms now and I’ve decided not to camp after my extremely damp experience last year.
The abbreviations key was inadvertently left off the last edition of the members’ list. Many thanks to Hilary Potts and William Longland for pointing this out. You will find a list of the current abbreviations on page 4.
There were two reviews of the Victoria workshop in Epping in the May Tamesis. Mike Feinson was also inspired to write about it and sent me a copy of his review for the EEMF newsletter. Thanks too to Ken Hoffman for his review of the Hieronymus Praetorius workshop at Little Chalfont which I couldn’t get to. It sounds as if I missed a good day.
You may have noticed that I’ve been bringing music for “sale” to some of our recent events. It comes from the stock of music which Alex Ayre used to sell from his home in Chesham, much of which he published himself. His wife, Anne, who played the recorder in our Chesham Consort and used to accompany my recorder and flute pupils for their exams, sadly died recently from lymphoma and a huge amount of music remained to be disposed of when the house was sold. A lot went to Benslow to be used or sold, some is going to the Walter Bergmann Fund and Anne’s friends are finding good homes for the rest of it. I’ve been asking for donations in aid of a lymphoma charity and have collected nearly £100 so far, and I’m sure I’ll be bringing more music when I’ve had time to finish sorting it out.
This is quite a thin Tamesis with nowhere near enough material for 16 pages so I’ve had to squeeze it to fit into 12. Do write something for the September issue about a summer school, a concert, a new instrument, anything early music related that you think might be interesting. And don’t forget you can have a whole page advertisement on the back page or inside for £25. A bargain!
I’m organising the Andrew Griffiths workshop on the development of Venetian chori spezzati (polychoral music) in October. A lot of you will have been to Andrew’s excellent workshop on German cori spezzati last year so I suggest you book early for this one, not just because it’s likely to be popular but also because I’ll need to allocate you to a choir if you’re printing your own music. I don’t want to come back to a huge backlog of frustrated people waiting to print their music if I do manage to get away on holiday sometime in September.
In spite of clashing with certain well-publicised events at Windsor and at Wembley, our workshop with Philip Thorby on the 19th of May was a great success. So too was the one with Patrick Allies on the 10th of June when the main work was the mass Tulerunt Dominum by Hieronymus Praetorius. I have long admired this composer and I see that my sheet music collection includes three 12-part, two 10-part and two 8-part pieces by him which work well on cornetts & sackbuts. It was perhaps surprising that instruments were not wanted at the workshop but I have now made parts for the mass and added it to my collection. I bought the CD recorded by Patrick's group, Siglo de Oro, and have been enjoying that very much.
Although I am not a follower of football, it is impossible to be unaware of a competition currently taking place in Russia. Indeed when playing music in London recently we were able to follow the progress of a match by the roar of the crowd from a nearby pub whenever England scored, which happened surprisingly often on this occasion. I see that the next TVEMF event, "Seven" directed by Peter Syrus clashes with the playoff for third place so I apologise to the organisers of the World Cup for the inevitable reduction in their attendance in consequence.
Key to the abbreviations in the membership list
bar=baroque ren=renaissance cla=classical mod=modern
t=teacher p=professional c=competent c*=sing one-to-a-part f=fair b=beginner VOICE SOP=soprano MEZZO=mezzosoprano ALTO=contralto TEN=tenor BAR=baritone BASS=bass
REC=recorder s=soprano a=alto v=voice flute t=tenor b=bass q=quart bass c=contra-bass
VIOL tr=treble te=tenor bs=bass
I = Interests (m=medieval, r=renaissance, b=baroque)
Other instruments and interests by name
ADDRESS = second address e.g. at weekends
NOMAIL means does not want mailshots
Hieronymus Praetorius at Little Chalfont on 10th June 2018
Hieronymus Praetorius (1560-1629). The usual reaction is either ‘Not a household name’ or “Is he related to Michael Praetorius of ‘Lo, how a rose e’er blooming’ Christmas fame?”. No relation!
So it was with curiosity that most of us approached TVEMF’s workshop on a beautiful, late spring Sunday in suburban Little Chalfont. Some of the 46-strong chorus were drawn by the excellent reputation Patrick Allies enjoys among amateur early music singers.
The chief work for the day was the Hieronymus Praetorius Mass for Easter, ‘Tulerunt Dominum meum’, scored for two four-voice choirs. It was supplemented with two motets: Andrea Gabrieli’s ‘Maria stabat’, for 6-part choir; and an on-the-day addition, Jakob Handl’s ‘Filiae Ierusalem’, for two, four-voice choirs. These motets, as well as the one ‘behind’ the Mass, were all published in Florilegium Portense, a 1618-1621 edition of special note for its acquisition by JS Bach for his Leipzig choir 100 years later. Patrick began the workshop with two most helpful steps. One was a sensible warmup with a charming, 6-part canon by the ‘wrong’ Praetorius, Michael. The other was a brief introduction to Hieronymus, noting his place in a great Hamburger musical dynasty centred on the five hauptkirche, including the composer’s own church of St Jacobi (St James). Praetorius, working in the late 16th and early 17th century, was a product of the changing style from late renaissance to early baroque and of varied musical influences including Venetian, German, and Franco-Flemish models.
Patrick noted the invaluable contribution to Praetorius scholarship by the dedicated American musicologist Fred Gable. Gable was awarded his PhD in 1966 from the University of Iowa with a dissertation on the motets of Praetorius and has since spent a lifetime on this composer and his works.
Following the warmup, the session proper opened with the Gabrieli motet. Its most remarkable feature was an unexpected harmonic shift halfway through, from F major to E-flat major, which took a number of us by surprise.
After that, work began on the mass itself. Patrick explained that Lutheran masses of the period could be written either to Latin or vernacular texts. We were probably better off for this setting being in Latin, as most anglophone amateur choirs struggle with German vowels. In contrast, familiarity with an easy-going 19th century Italian church Latin gets most of us through the sticky bits of mass settings and lets us concentrate on finding the right notes.
Patrick kindly offered an opportunity to sing through the nine minute credo, but wisely chose to leave it at that, preferring to concentrate on the four shorter Mass movements.
At the sanctus, the vocal setting was especially evocative: high voices alone at the start, for the angels’ continual singing. Surprisingly, the sanctus had no hosanna, though a brief one appeared after the benedictus.
With post-lunch energy declining rapidly, Patrick wisely sent us off to a generous tea and cake before the final run-through. The order was Gabrieli motet, the Mass’s kyrie and gloria, the Handl motet, and finally the Mass’s sanctus, benedictus, and agnus. Little Chalfont Village Hall proved a congenial venue. While it won’t be confused with the Concertgebouw for acoustics, it was resonant enough, away from street and other noise, and featured solid, comfortable chairs – this last a particular pleasure for a choir the bulk of whose members were between 50 and 80 years of age.
An exceptional feature of the day was the brilliantly clear Mass score produced by David Fletcher, no small influence on the success and pleasure of the event. Other aspects of the day were quietly and expertly managed by David King, including the good balance of the two choirs: 8-5-3-6 and 8-6-3-7 (tenors, as usual, in short supply, presumably hunted to extinction).
In the end, of course, sessions like this, especially where entirely a capella, are chiefly dependent on the quality of the conductor. Patrick Allies richly deserves the regard in which he is held. He is superbly skilled, but also patient, endlessly good-natured, and strikes an excellent balance between teaching and letting the punters have a go at the music that drew them in. All-in-all, another successful event for TVEMF, chaired by David Fletcher, and a testament to the many years’ experience, generosity, and creativity of TVEMF’s volunteers.
TVEMF/EEMF workshop on Victoria’s 12-part Mass ‘Laetatus Sum’
This workshop was held in Epping Hall, which is part of the Council offices. It is a modern building: the hall was large, equipped with retractable seating which was drawn back against the wall. The hall opened out onto the garden/lawn, which many attendees used for the lunch break. There was a hatch for serving coffees and biscuits from the modern kitchen, complete with dishwasher! The lighting in the hall was good and even. The acoustic was clear but warm. There was plenty of parking space in the nearby Bakers Lane car park, only £1 for the whole day. All in all, this was an excellent venue, and would be ideal for another joint event.
The Mass was based on Victoria’s own 12-part motet ‘Laetatus Sum’. Victoria kept the texture light, alternating phrases between the choirs, and giving individual choirs a solo section, or even giving the cantus voices from all the choirs an individual section. Each choir had its own set of instrumental support, which again helped to change the texture and shape of the individual sections.
We worked on the motet and the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus and Agnus Dei of the Mass during the day, and finished off with a glorious sing-through. This was a great piece to sing. Philip was in sparkling form, but also provided insights into choral conventions of the time (did you know that the Vatican choir practiced together for only four hours in the whole of a year?).
Congratulations and thanks to Vicky Helby for organising the day, and thanks also to the army of willing helpers. Wonderful day.