Music for two bass viols alone (2)

December 30, 2009

One of the reasons I got this weblog going was to psych myself up for some bass viol duets. That has happened, yet, but may. As Picasso once said, “I don’t wait for inspiration to come, I work 9 to 5 in my office every day so I’m ready when it does!” One of the delights of blogging is the serendipitous nature of interweaving realisations and synchronicities. Today’s example is the link between tab for two and bass viol duets.

Music for a Viol: J.Jenkins, Chr Simpson, Th Ford, M Locke. Wieland and Sigiswald Kuijken, viols with Robert Kohnen, harpsichord.  CD. Beert, Belgium: Accent ACC 68014D. Recorded 1980.

Tracks 4-9, Matthew Locke, Duos for two bass Viols, composed in 1652 in C and Emin.

Tracks 12-14, Thomas Ford, Musicke of Sundrie Kindes, 1607.

One notes the players, the Kuijken brothers, and one knows immediately one is talking about the high end of the bass duet repertoire, not just in terms of the technical complexity of the music but the transcendent nature of the performance. For mere mortals, this is the stuff of aspiration, reinforced by three tracks devoted to Chr Simpson divisions and the two fantasias by Jenkins as well, for violoni e viola. Locke and Ford remain accessible for some of us, so I’ll speak of them briefly today.


Tracks 4-6. Fantazia (1.27), Fantazia (2.07) and Saraband (0.45). This is “pure” Locke, consort music distilled into two parts. Brilliantly “searching” introductions quickly developing into the full sound of the confident point once established. Players thrown in some sensitive changes in tempo in the fantasias. Tracks 7-9. Fantazia (1.44), Fantazia (1.52) and Courant (1.28). More of same!

For sheet music, see The King’s Edition, Corda Music Publications, in their usual hand-copied style.


And here’s the cross-over with tablature. Firstly, the sheet music is available in the Martha Bishop tab anthology, Tablature for Two. In that book, her normal tuning works are by Hume and her Lyra Way or Bandora Sett (fefhf) are in the main by Mr Ford. Here you will find Why not Here, which is the title of another CD recording of tab music. They come off here as almost encore pieces after the Jenkins and Simpson.

Track 12. Pavan, M. Maine’s Choice and Galliard (7’48”). The Galliard is a splendid work and the pavAn a beautifully Grave work, from poignant beginning to piercing end, all so delightful the sheet music is worth seeking out. The score is not in the Bishop anthology, but another Paven is, being M Southcote’s Paven.

Track 13. The Baggepipes, Sir John Howards Delight (1’10”).  A mere 20 bars played at a rollicking speed.

Track 14. Why not Here M Crosse His Choice (2’05”). Not dissimilar to the last, but rather more tuneful, including some delightful thumpes or pizzicato, a common ornamental feature of tab and not just in the likes of Hume’s Harke Harke!


 John Rozendaal has a new solo CD out featuring Chr Simpson divisions and pieces from the Manchester Gamba Book.

Why Not Here: English Music for two Lyra Viols is a CD by Lee Santana and Hille Perl, featuring music by Ford, Ferrabosco, Jenkins, Holborne, Alison, Danyel and Lawes. The Ford pieces include Pavane and Galliard, M Mayne’s Choice, Forget me not, Why not here? and another Pavane and Galliard. all with lute accompaniment. The Lawes is the Pavan a3 for lyra viols and Aires for 2 Division Viols in C.



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