Jacob Handl (1550–1591): Resonet in laudibus

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…

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

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…

Henry VIII – Grene growith the holy

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.…

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

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…

Peter Philips (1560-1628): Cantabant Sancti

Philips  composed Cantabant Sancti (The Saints sing) In Festo SS. Innocentium – in honour of The Feast of the Holy Innocents which falls on December 28th and commemorates the massacre of the children by King Herod in his attempt to kill the infant Jesus (Matthew 2:16–18). It’s a responsory and versicle that starts with just…

Choir of York Minster: Good King Wenceslas

This is an unusual carol, actually I’ll go further it’s a very unusual carol because although it’s meant to be sung on December 26th – the first day after Christmas itself it makes no reference to the Nativity or to any of the other events celebrated at Christmastide such as the Massacre of the Innocents.…

"Carols For Christmas" featuring Aled Jones

I have very happy memories of Aled Jones’ singing as a treble during the 1980s. He’s developed into a rather pleasant tenor and is perhaps best known now as a BBC presenter. I wore out my video tape of "Carols For Christmas" featuring Aled Jones and was delighted to find it on YouTube. I’m off…

The Herefordshire Carol – The King’s Singers

We owe our knowledge of this folk carol to Ralph Vaug­han Wil­liams who transcribed and popularised it. He got it from Ella Leath­er, a collector of folk music who had transcribed it from a folk singer named William Jenkins. I think it’s a survival from what was known as "gallery music" which was music written…