Posts Tagged ‘ English choral music ’

Robert Ramsey (fl c1612-1644): In monte Oliveti

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March 17, 2015

Ramsey's madrigal-anthem probably dates from around 1615 and was written for private devotions rather than the liturgy. It's a six-part setting that with its harmonic tensions, repetitions, and use of declamation and and dissonance can sound surprisingly modern to our ears. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585): Forgive me, Lord my sin

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March 9, 2015

Very little is known about this piece, we don't know when Tallis composed it, or for whom, or for what occasion. But it appears in both editions of James Clifford’s published collections of anthem texts. Clifford's collection was the "greatest hits" compilation of the time so "Forgive me, Lord my sin" must have been both very popular and widespread. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Edward Bairstow (1874–1946): Save us, O Lord

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March 3, 2015

Bairstow started out as a teacher but in 1893 he took up a post combining the duties of pupil and amanuensis to Frederick Bridge at Westminster Abbey. From there he progressed through various posts as organist and choirmaster until eventually taking up the post of organist in of York Minster in 1913 a post he held until his death. "Save us, O Lord" ís a setting of a Compline antiphon that dates from 1902 when Bairstow was organist of Wigan Parish Church. It's a lovely flowing piece with seamless transitions between the entries for organ and the choir and is probably his best-known and best-loved piece. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Robert Ramsey (fl c1612-1644): When David heard

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February 9, 2015

HPOW CaptionedRamsey was probably born at some time during the 1590s but the first reliable record we have of him is at Cambridge from 1612. He seems to have spent his entire adult life at Cambridge taking a B.Mus in 1616 and being appointed or­gan­ist at or­gan­ist of Tri­n­ity Col­lege, Cambrid­ge from 1628 until his death in 1644. He also held the post of Mast­er of the Childr­en at the col­lege from 1637. All of this argues that he was a talented musician well respected by his peers. His madrigal motet When David heard,  is one of the many musical expressions of grief at the death of Henry Prin­ce of Wales, King James I's first son from composers throughout England and Scotland. The text is taken from the Bible and tells of Kind David's reaction to the news of the death of his son Absalon, everyone who heard this being sung or who read the the text would have understood that King James was represented by David and that Absalon was Henry his son.

When David heard that Absalon was slain,
he went up to his chamber over the gate,
and wept, and as he went thus he said:

O my son Absalon, Absalon,
would to God I had died for thee,
O Absalon my son, my son.

Unlike many of the other expressions of grief this one was meant for private performance. It's a beautifully crafted piece of music, deceptively simple, but very lovely. It's sung below by The Sixteen. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Pelham Humfrey (±1648 —1 674): By the waters of Babylon

2
January 16, 2015

Pelham Humfrey started his career as one of the 'forwardest & brightest' boys recruited for the Chapel Royal by  Henry Cooke who had been ordered by Charles II to restore English Church Music to its former glory. He was probably a Londoner but nobody really knows all that much about his origins. What we do know is that 'forward and bright' really only begins to describe his musical talent who already had written several anthems by the time his voice broke aged sixteen. Aged sixteen he was sent to Paris on full pay for two years to study music and on his return proved himself to be a master musician and composer who succeeded to the post of royal choirmaster when Cooke died in 1672. Sadly he only outlived his old master by two years but in that two years he produced some remarkably fine music including By the waters of Babylon. It's a symphony anthem – one of fourteen that he composed, and clearly demonstrates his skill at crafting musical structures in in which the vocal and instrumental components are organically linked, rather than just tacked together which had been the norm up to then. It's a somewhat unusual symphony anthem in that it opens with a short prelude rather than the full symphony which appears as a dance measure towards the end. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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