Thames Valley Early Music Forum
Tamesis Issue 246
The Christmas workshop is coming up on Sunday 14th December and though I’ve received a lot of bookings it’s a bit top heavy at the moment so please, tenors and basses, send in your forms! There are a good number of instrumentalists but more loud wind (not shawms!) and violins would be most welcome. Other instruments and voices are not excluded (yet). Those of you who came to David Allinson’s Spanish Christmas workshop a few years ago will know that this should be another festive and musically satisfying day.
In January we have Hieronymus Praetorius for singers and instruments directed by Patrick Allies at Ickenham. If you’re planning to come to that, please make sure you read David King’s article on page 5 about the provision of music.
I went to see Haydn’s comic opera Life on the Moon at the Hackney Empire last month. What a marvellous theatre it is, originally a Victorian music hall and now restored to its former glory. You’ll have to travel outside our area to see the opera now if you missed it there but it really is worth the effort. The plot by Goldoni is quite silly but the music is absolutely beautiful, played by a period orchestra conducted from the harpsichord by Christopher Bucknall.
Another performance not to be missed is Nine Daies Wonder. the story of William Kemp who danced from London to Norwich in nine days, entertaining the crowds along the way. The Society of Strange and Ancient Instruments are putting on an extra performance at Christ Church Spitalfields on Wednesday 10th December, and though it’s described on their website rather tamely as “dances, songs and instrumental music from the Elizabethan court, towns and countryside”, it’s really more like an Elizabethan pantomime, and very clever. Although I saw it at Aldeburgh where it was originally developed I was seriously thinking of going to Brighton to see it again, so I’m glad it’s turned up again nearer home. These two shows are quite a change from the eleven Messiah’s which I’ve typed into the concert list. Do promoters think that’s all we want to listen to at Christmas?
Christopher Bucknall, the conductor of Life on the Moon, is one of two new tutors at the 2015 Baroque Week at Ardingly. He will work with singers, continuo players and large groups. Oboe players will be delighted to know that the other is Leo Duarte who plays oboe and recorder professionally with many period orchestras. I always go to the baroque week and I’m delighted that it’s continuing. Over the years the pitch of the week has gradually moved from 440 to 415 and finally it has been decided that everyone must be equipped to play at 415, though 440 and 392 will also be available when appropriate. The theme next year will be The Judgement of Paris. Four composers – Eccles, Finger, Weldon and Daniel Purcell – composed operas on William Congreve’s libretto for a competition in 1700, although Finger’s version is lost, and I remember going to a marvellous performance of them at St John’s Smith Square a few years ago. Peter Collier has retired from directing the week, though he will still be there to sort out playing groups and bring and advise on his enormous music library, but I’m glad to say that he has agreed to run another baroque chamber music day for us in April. The date will almost certainly be Saturday 25th. We’ll confirm the date as soon as possible on the TVEMF website www.tvemf.org.
I was sad to hear that Nick Pollock is moving to Wales at the end of the year. He has been a valued member of the TVEMF Committee and a regular attender at our events, so he will certainly be sorely missed – our good wishes go with him. Of course this leaves a gap on the Committee and in any case we would welcome new members so please consider putting yourself forward at the AGM at the Christmas event on the 14th of December.
I hope Nick will continue as a member, thus giving us two in Wales, one in the USA and one in France as well as those in Yorkshire, Devon and other relatively distant parts. We can thank our newsletter editor for providing such a good magazine that people subscribe even if they can't get to many or indeed any events.
The Greenwich Early Music Exhibition is on 13th to the 15th of November and David Butler would be glad to hear of anyone who is prepared to be on the stand for an hour or two.
Sunday 14th December 2014 at 5.15 approx.
(after the Christmas workshop in Amersham)
1. Apologies for absence
2. Approval of the minutes of last meeting
3. Chairman's report
4. Secretary's report
5. Treasurer's report
6. Election of officers and committee
7. Any other business
Music for Patrick Allies Workshop on Hieronymus Praetorius,
17th January 2015
The application form for the Praetorius workshop gives singers (and instrumentalists also wishing to sing) the option of printing out scores in advance and receiving a £2 reduction in the workshop fee. When I have received your completed forms I will forward PDFs of the scores to you if you have indicated you wish to print them yourselves. It will be extremely helpful if you can do your own printing and furthermore it will make it easier for you to practice the music in advance. If possible print the music double sided and insert it in a clip folder. One of the works,’Tota pulchra es’, is in twelve parts consisting of three choirs of four voices and since the complete vocal score is 26 pages long I will allocate singers to specific choirs and will send you the PDF for your choir and also a PDF of the complete score. If you print out the music for your choir only it will save you a lot of printing and you may find the music easier to manage. On the other hand you may prefer to see all the other parts and therefore wish to print out the whole score. The character and ranges of the parts for each choir are very similar save for bass 3 that, unlike the other bass parts, has many low Fs. If you are applying as a bass you might like to indicate if you wish to sing this part and places will be filled on a first come first serve basis. Instrumental parts will be provided on the day and, as is stated on the application form, instrumentalists who do not wish to sing for part of the time are eligible for the £2 reduction and thus pay £10 if they are members of an early music forum or otherwise £12. The six works we will study are listed below. They are all available on CPDL but you should only print out the PDFs I send you so you use the correct version where several versions are available online and also because some of the scores have been tidied up by David Fletcher to remove redundant information and ensure all alto parts are in treble clef rather than treble octave clef. Gaudete omnes: SSATTB Tota pulchra es: SATB SATB SATB Magnificat quinti toni: SSAT ATBarB Wie lang O Gott: SATTB Cantate Domino: SATB SATB O vos omnes: SATTB
Cambridge liturgical weekend 2014
Following what must be presumed to have been a tolerably successful encounter with Manchicourt and Guerrero in 2013, Edward Wickham kindly agreed to make St Catharine’s available again and to direct this year’s event, which took place on the weekend 19-21 September. The thirty-two singers, as was the case last year, were mainly TVEMF members, and we were delighted to welcome our familiar friends from Denmark, Finland and Holland once again.
This year’s programme again featured two highly regarded composers, Jacobus Clemens non Papa (ca. 1510-15-1555 or 56) and Philippe Rogier, (1561-96), whose music is less frequently performed nowadays than that of their contemporaries. Clemens’ original name was the rather less grandiloquent Jacob Clement and there is much speculation about his acquisition of the sobriquet “non Papa” which appears in the edition of his works published by Susato, and its less well-known variants, “Clemens haud Papa” and “Clemente nono Papa”. Whatever the truth of the matter, it seems reasonable to discount the explanation in Wikipedia that its purpose was to distinguish him from Pope Clement VII, since that cleric died in 1534.
Clemens, who held positions at Bruges, ‘s Hertogenbosch, Ypres and Leiden during his relatively short life, was an extremely prolific composer, whom Allen W Atlas, in Renaissance Music (Norton, 1998) describes, along with Gombert and Willaert, as one of the three great motet composers of the second quarter of the sixteenth century. 233 of the 512 works attributed to him are motets, and his next most numerous type of composition is represented in the collection of 150 psalm settings (the souterliedekens or ‘little psalter songs’) for three voices, with vernacular texts and melodies taken largely from German popular and folk songs, designed to provide moral edification by being sung at home.
The work by Clemens which we performed was his Mass Ecce quam bonum based on his four-part motet whose text is taken from Psalm 133 (Ecce quam bonum et quam jucundum, habitare fratres in unum). Like all but one of Clemens’ fifteen masses (the Missa Defunctorum) it is a parody mass; other composers whose chansons served as bases for Clemens’ parody masses include Manchicourt, Gombert, Willaert and Sermisy. The Mass is set for five voices except in the Sanctus and Agnus Dei where the tenors are divided and sing in canon. This is one of the few examples of canonic writing found in the works of Clemens and, according to the New Grove, one which symbolises (in some unexplained manner) the idea habitare fratres in unum. If that is correct, it may be that the writing of the canon in unison, rather than at the often employed intervals of a fourth or a fifth, is a particularly emphatic demonstration of the idea of dwelling together in unity. Under Edward’s calm and meticulous direction we fairly soon became acquainted with the work, albeit with a certain amount of coming and going as basses and tenors alternated (and at one point came together) on the naughty step, and there were also brief experiments with scrambled singing and surround sound.
Philippe Rogier was born in Arras and his musical career began in 1572 when he was taken to Spain as a boy treble. He was ordained a priest and was granted various benefices by Philip II, to whose court he was appointed vicemaestro di capella in 1584 and maestro on the death of Gerard de Hele in 1586. Some decades after his death, the great Spanish writer Lope de Vega paid tribute to him in a poem describing him as the ’honour, glory and light of Flanders’. In his short life he composed 243 works, of which only 51 survive from the destruction by fire of the royal chapel at Madrid in 1734. The collection in the library of King John IV of Portugal was destroyed in the Lisbon earthquake of 1788.
The work which we performed, and which provided a powerful finale to the service, at which the Mass was sung liturgically without the Credo, was the six-part motet (SSAATB) laboravi in gemitu, the text of which is Psalm 6 (Domine, ne in furore), v.6. In the Roman Catholic liturgy the text is used at Compline on Mondays and in the office for the dead at matins (Liber Usualis, 283, 1783). For your reviewer, the motet evocatively portrays the emotional state of the narrator, with the plangent opening section depicting the weariness of his groaning and the repeated melismata, ascending in pitch and increasing in intensity, on ‘lavabo’ and ‘rigabo’ simulating the flowing of the tears with which he nightly waters his bed.
Its authorship has long been the subject of controversy. Although it was included in Lavern J. Wagner’s edition of eleven motets by Rogier (Recent Researches in the Music of the Renaissance, vol. II, A-R editions, 1966), the controversy continued; see, for instance, Peter Philips’ article ‘Laboravi in Gemitu: Morley or Rogier?’, Music and Letters (1982) 63 (1-2), 85-90. Even today, it appears in the list of Morley’s sacred music on CPDL, but how it came to be ascribed to him is unclear. The CPDL entry for Rogier refers to it as “believed to be adapted by Morley based on a work by Rogier”. However, we may note that neither in the extensive list of “Practitioners, the most part of whose works we have diligently perused for finding the true use of the Moods” at the end of Morley’s A Plain and Easy Introduction to Practical Music, nor in the main text, is there any mention of Rogier.
For another socially and musically satisfying weekend, our sincere thanks go to Edward for directing the event and to Neil for his organisation of the event including, once again, the production of the music, embellished, as always, with the editorial accidentals which give rise to the debates about whether they should be adopted or rejected, without which no event of this nature can be complete. It is a pleasure and a privilege to participate in an event such as this and we look forward to further opportunities to sing in Cambridge.
Canons and Catches
TVEMF members enjoyed a stimulating, well-attended day at St James Church (W2 3UD) on 6th September. Our director was Justin Doyle, who chose a varied programme of Canons and Catches by Lobo, Mouton, Palestrina, Byrd, Ravenscroft, Purcell and others. Justin demonstrated the best choir-masterly skills and was always alive to the expressive and performing possibilities of each piece. Right from the outset, Justin had us on the move, placing us in facing choir stalls, semi-circular and circular formations, quite different from the conventional four-part chorus, with everyone rooted in the same position. One admired the way he gave out starting notes with pin point accuracy, ranging from low bass G to high in his falsetto range, up at least to soprano D on the 4th line of the treble clef, without recourse to the piano. We basses will certainly remember his “w-W-O-U-O-W-w” demonstration, with appropriately timed mouth opening, for producing rich, sonorous low Gs. Sopranos will recall his striking image, only a trifle far-fetched, for producing a clear, beautiful high D: “Imagine you are trying to pick up a drawing pin from the floor with a wet flannel dipped in oil!” The music included some real curiosities. William Byrd was represented by his Diliges Dominum from Cantiones Sacrae, 1575. This is for two four-part ensembles, with the secundus choir singing the same music as the primus choir, but backwards. For some reason, we found this difficult, perhaps because our score was transposed up a minor third to the less familiar key of A flat, or possibly because the structure of the piece seemed to prohibit cadences and suspensions. Anyway, we ended up a semi-tone flat. So, after re-distributing us in a huge circle around the whole church, he got us to sing it again while perambulating around. Somebody said this reminded him of what Lyndon Johnson said about Gerald Ford being unable to walk and chew gum at the same time. But this must have freed us up because the piece sounded much better.
At this point, Justin may have felt that we were good enough to tackle something more difficult. So he brought out a realisation by Philip Legge of a Deo Gratia by Johannes Ockeghem, a 36 part Canon, arranged for 9 each of sopranos, altos, tenors and bases. Besides 3/2 against 6/4 rhythms, the canon featured some (ferociously difficult) syncopated hocketing in the alto parts. Perhaps we might have managed it if we’d had enough altos, given that (unusually), we were light in that department. But it certainly brought home to us that Ockeghem must have had many excellent singers available to him.
Finally, we departed briefly from the early music agenda with a four-part catch “The Girl that I Love” by Richard Crossland. This tells the story of a sleepless, unrequited lover who doesn’t even know where his beloved lives or works, so he ends up “writing letters that I know I never can deliver”. As you would expect in a good catch, “li-ver” in Voice 4 is followed by “poolS” in Voice 2, “treat” in Voice 3 and “sta-tion” in Voice 1 producing “Liverpool Street Station” as the solution to our lover’s question. While the music was easy, the busy words took us a couple of run-throughs to get right. But the 3rd performance was well-nigh perfect!
In his concluding remarks thanking Justin, David Fletcher summed up the workshop by noting that, if people thought they were in for a dry-as-dust workshop on one of the most academic of all musical forms, they were in for a big surprise.
The Monteverdi Influence
Drenching rain greeted the fifty-two singers who arrived at the Headington Community Centre on 4 October for a musical experience whose content originated in sunnier climes. The centre-piece of the programme was Monteverdi’s five-part madrigal Ohime il bel viso and we had the great pleasure of being led through this and the remainder of the programme by Robert Hollingworth, who provided us with an inimitably characteristic display of erudition and entertainment. During the course of the warm-up and general explanatory remarks, he subjected us to Wackiest Warm-Up Exercise of the Year (which required us to imitate an English-speaking Italian going into a shop to order toast and butter and marmalade), introduced us to Weird Concept of the Year (the harmonics of Wow), appalled us with Execrable Pun of the Year, the invention of which he disclaimed (the Dorian mode is not black or white, but Gray) and regaled us with Rhyme of the Year, namely, that “Freuden” (which occurs in the Schein piece, Die mit Tränen säen) rhymes with “Croydon”-a gift to anyone reviewing a performance of the Ode to Joy at the Fairfield Hall. Robert told us that although Ohime il bel viso was published in Monteverdi’s sixth book of madrigals in 1614 (the “Hi, Venice, I’ve arrived” book, as he referred to it), it was written in 1607, the year in which he composed Orfeo; that the text, a sonnet by Petrarch, was the first which he wrote after hearing of the death of Laura, and that while texts by Petrarch had often been set in the mid-sixteenth century, that had ceased to be the case by about 1570, so Monteverdi’s use of this source of material was a reversion to an earlier practice. Indeed, it appears from the list in the New Grove that this was a rarity; he seems to have set only two other texts by Petrarch, one of which, the duet Zeffiro torna, appears in the same book of madrigals. His favourite sources of text included Torquato Tasso (1544-95; best known for his epic poem La Gerusalemme Liberata, 1581) who wrote nine books of Rime between 1567 and 1593 in a style heavily influenced by Petrarch, and Giovanni Batista Guarini (1538-1612), the writer of the Arcadian tragicomedy Il pastor fide, from which the text of the madrigal by Schütz which we studied, Dunque addio, was taken.
Ohime il bel viso begins with a section lamenting the passing of the virtues of the loved one; first and second sopranos alternately call the lower voices into action, the tune being shared by the altos and tenors, which Robert mentioned as an example of Monteverdi’s innovation of keeping two musical ideas in play at the same time. One of the harmonic subtleties to which he drew our attention occurs at the end of the first verse; at ed ogni huom vil, gagliardo, the base man is represented by an A minor triad, but he is made noble in three successive major chords, the last being A major. The loved one’s sweet smile is then hinted at by the tenors and the dart which originates from it is impelled first by the basses, then by the altos, while the sopranos continue to declaim the lament. A short and stately homophonic passage portrays the worthiness of the regal soul, after which the lover depicts his own desolation as the wind carries his words away from her, and this provides another example of Monteverdi’s innovation; groups of voices interchange between the phrases Quand’io parti dal sommo piacer vivo and di speranza m’empieste e de desire, which are being sung at the same time.
Heinrich Schütz, born some twenty years after Monteverdi, had a similarly long life, dying in Dresden in 1672. His musical career began as a choirboy at the court of the Landgraf Moritz of Hessen-Kassel, and it was to him that he dedicated the book of madrigals which he produced in 1611 while studying under Giovanni Gabrieli in Venice. Although it is entitled Il primo libro de madrigali, no other book of madrigals by him survives, and indeed the bulk of his work consists of sacred music set to German texts. Schütz is one of many composers of madrigals with text from Il pastor fido; Monteverdi composed no less than fourteen. The Monteverdi influence is apparent in Schütz’s Dunque addio, which was the next item on the programme; Maniates (Mannerism in Italian Music and Culture, University of North Carolina Press, 1979) observes, in relation to that madrigal, that “from Monteverdi, Schütz developed his mastery of declamatory motives as well as affective harmonies and melodic contours”. One of Monteverdi’s harmonic devices which Robert mentioned (the shift from a minor to a major key, the two having one note in common) occurs in this section; on care selve, (where the singer is bidding farewell to the dear woods) the chords for the two syllables of selve are F minor followed by G major. The opening section is very reminiscent of Ohime il bel viso, with the first and second sopranos’ repetitions of “addio” introducing the farewell sung by the lower voices; the last deep sighs before the contemplated death are vividly painted, as is the despair of a soul which can find no resting-place in heaven or hell. The next two items were settings of psalm texts by Johann Herrmann Schein. Born in 1586, he, like Schütz, began his musical career as a choirboy, studied law at his university, and enjoyed the patronage of a member of the German nobility, resulting, in his case, in his appointment as Kapellmeister to the ducal court at Weimar, where he remained for a short time before becoming Kantor at the Thomaskirche. It was just before he took up the Weimar post that he published his first collection of sacred music, Cymbalum Sionium, the source of the next item in our programme. Schein, says the New Grove, was one of the first composers to graft the style of the Italian madrigal, monody and concerto onto the traditional elements of Lutheran church music. Singet fröhlich Gotte is a vigorous setting of Psalm 81, vv.1-4 which is much less contrapuntal than the madrigals that preceded it in the programme, and is very detailed in the word setting, with the opening statement being followed by the dance rhythm of jauchzet, jauchzet der Gott Jakob, the imitations of the string, percussion and wind instruments which accompany the rejoicing at the Feast of the Tabernacles, and a final imposing declaration of the statute for Israel and the law of the God of Jacob. The second item, Die mit Tränen säen, a setting of Psalm 126, v.5-6, is from his 1623 collection, Israelsbrünnlein (or Fontana d’Israel) which consists of thirty settings of Old Testament texts scored for SSATB and continuo (omitted from the edition which we used and thought to be not really necessary in any event). The chromatic sequences and discords which characterise the episodes of weeping contrast sharply with the simplicity of the passages representing the joyful homecoming, and the busy passage of sheaf-gathering which follows approaches its end with a fine flourish by the sopranos.
The programme continued in chronological order with a chorus from the oratorio Jephte, written shortly before 1650 by Giacomo Carissimi (1605-74). Carissimi spent his professional life from 1629 onwards as maestro di cappella at the Collegio Germanico in Rome. His works included masses, motets and cantatas, but it was as a composer of oratorios that he was acknowledged to be pre-eminent. We sang the final six-part chorus plorate, filii Israel, a highly rhetorical composition with the calls to lamentation emphasised by numerous dissonances. Commiserations (or congratulations, according to taste) are due to the basses who, whatever the dispositions of the upper five voices, had to continue doggedly repeating their exhortations to lament without a break for the entire seventy bars before the final cadence.
The final piece chosen to illustrate the Monteverdi influence was Purcell’s well-known anthem, Remember not, Lord, our offences, written in about 1680. The previous three decades, from the time of the Commonwealth onwards, had been a relatively barren period for English church music; although Tomkins, the last survivor of the tradition that sprung from Tallis and Byrd, lived on till 1656, most of the sources of his liturgical music date from the 1640s or earlier. There was need for a new style and Purcell provided it. The opening homophonic section of Remember not, Lord, our offences is declamatory and full of harmonic contrasts. The device of groups of voices singing different text at the same time which appears in Ohime il bel viso is also employed in the contrapuntal section of Remember not where, from bar 12, there is continual interchange of the voices between the two text phrases “neither take thou vengeance of our sins”, and “but spare us, good Lord” until all five voices reach “spare us, good Lord” in bar 27. Then the writing becomes homophonic again with some startling dissonances (not surprisingly, on the word “angry”) where the basses have an F under a G major chord in the upper four voices at bar 35 and a G under an A major chord at bar 38; and it is not until the final words “good Lord” that concord is restored. We are all indebted to Robert for a fascinating guided tour through a musical landscape which has not been extensively explored in recent TVEMF events. Warm thanks are also due to Catherine Lorigan for organising the event and to all those who in various ways helped to make it such a satisfying occasion.
Christmas concert of early music
Please come to a concert I'm sponsoring at St Mary’s Adderbury, nr Banbury, at 4pm, Sunday Dec 14. As a TVEMF member I will arrange for you to get up to two £12 tickets 25% off by emailing your name to me at jobpeter @ gmail.com. Hear the magnificent Christmas Oratorio by Heinrich Schutz, with its angels, flute-playing shepherds, nice wise men, not so nice Pharisees and a very nasty Herod. The programme is directed by noted Royal Academician Laurence Cummings. It includes seasonal music by Byrd, Morley, Tallis, Praetorius, Victoria and Thomas Ravenscroft, the composer and folk music collector who first wrote down Three Blind Mice 400 years ago. His item bears a suspicious resemblance in parts to the National Anthem written decades later….