Posts Tagged ‘ Christmas Music ’

In The Bleak Midwinter : Choir of Kings College, Cambridge

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January 5, 2016

The choir of Kings College Chapel, Cambridge sing the lovely Christmas carol, In The Bleak Midwinter. The wonderful words of Christina Georgina Rossetti are sung to a beautiful setting by Gustav Holst.

Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Jacob Handl (1550–1591): Resonet in laudibus

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January 4, 2016

The printing of Resonet in laudibus in the 1582 Swedish songbook Piae Cantiones.

The printing of Resonet in laudibus in the 1582 Swedish songbook Piae Cantiones.

Handl was born in Slovenia and educated in both Melk and Vien­na. He asked for and got a sab­bat­ical and for the four years bet­ween 1575 and 1579 he wan­dered around Austria, Moravia, Bohemia and Silesia, living in monasteries and studying the music he heard on his travels tak­ing the op­por­tun­ity to "un­derstand the muse and meditate on the shep­herd’s pipe".  He wound up as can­tor of St Jan na Brzehu, Prague, where he re­mained until his death adding more pieces to his already vast output. His setting of Resonet in laudibus takes a Piae Cantiones tune that was already well-known and popular throughout the central European lands and adds some really rather beautiful harmonisation to it, the effect is delightful alas it's all too brief. Enjoy :—).

mfi

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Alessandro Scarlatti (1660–1725): Cantata pastorale per la natività di Nostre Signore (Christmas Cantata)

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December 31, 2015

A Scarlatti - Christmas Cantata - Cantata pastorale per la natività di Nostre Signore:
Oh di Betlemme altera povertà
Gertraut Stoklassa, soprano
Purcell Singers / Mainz Chamber Orchestra / Gunter Kerr
1.Sinfonia
2.Recitativo: O di Betlemme
3.Aria: Dal bel seno d'una stella
4.Recitativo: Presa d'uomo la forma
5.Aria: L'Autor d'ogni mio bene
6.Recitativo: Fortunati pastori
7.Aria: Toccò la prima sorte a voi

This recording is to the best of my knowledge only available on an LP long out of print. While I have carefully removed clicks, pops, static and surface noise wherever possible, I have NOT used any radical equalization adjustments to do so.

This is still one of the best – if not the best recordings of this around, there's a beautifully warm tone to the performance. I'm delighted to have found it again after so many years. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Henry VIII – Grene growith the holy

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December 30, 2015

Photo: Ivy  growing in snow Elmstead Wood, Bromley, South London.

Photo: Ivy  growing in snow Elmstead Wood, Bromley, South London.

Given how closely it follows the carol form I think it's safe to assume that 'Grene growith the holy' (Green grows the holly) was composed for Christmas celebrations. Only the burden's music (the refrain) has come down to us so an anonymous  tune from the manuscript of Henry's compositions is generally used for the verses. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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Richard Pygott (±1485 – 1549): Quid petis, O fili?

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December 29, 2015

Holy Family with Music Making Angels

Painting: Holy Family with Music Making Angels
Artist: Attributed to the Master of Frankfurt
Date: Circa 1515
Technique: Oil on wood panel
Location: Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool

As with so many Tudor era composers information about Pygott's early life is  scarce, what we do know about him is that he was taken up by Cardinal Wolsey and that by 1517 he had risen to be Master of the Children in Thomas Wolsey’s household chapel. He came to the notice of Henry VIII who considered Wolsey's choir to be better than his and praised Pygott for how well he had trained a chorister who had transferred from Wolsey's household to the royal one. Wolsey rewarded Pygott with pensions from Bridlington Priory in 1526 and Whitby Abbey a year later in 1527. Pygott was evidently both grateful and loyal because he remained in the cardinal's household until Wolsey's death in disgrace and in danger of being put to death by the king he had served so well. Shortly after his patron's death Pygott became a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal. Henry VIII was obviously pleased with him because he presented him with various livings and properties including one in Greenwich that had previously been occupied by William Cornysh he remained a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal until his death in 1549 although it appears he had mostly retired by then.

His music is interesting, very polished, and quite often shows considerable musical imagination it compares favourably with Taverner's music although I think it fair to say that Taverner's music has a greater sense of forward motion and he integrates his melodies more fully. Quid petis, O fili? is interesting because it's a carol. As we saw during Advent the English medieval carol had a particular form:

Carols em­er­ged in En­gland dur­ing the Mid­dle Ages they were re­lated in form to the French dance songs cal­led Caroles and were eith­er in Latin, or En­glish, or were macaronic – a mix of the two. Their struc­ture was both dis­tinctive and rigid with the sing­ers al­ter­nat­ing bet­ween a re­frain cal­led the "burd­en" and stan­zas and could be on any sub­ject, but were most­ly about the Vir­gin or the Saints of Christmas for ex­am­ple. 1

These carols were popular music and were often considered by the clerical and musical establishment to be crude and tending to encourage excessively boisterous performance by the laity notwithstanding this disapproval carols were so popular that somebody as firmly embedded in the establishment as Pygott composed carols using their mixture of sacred and profane, Latin and vernacular,burden and verse for performance at the courts of his patrons. There's some very nice imitative writing in the burden and first verse that Pygott sets off by using rests before reverting to a more traditional style of imitation in the remaining verses. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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