July 19, 2009
Jenkins: All in a Garden Green. Rose Consort of Viols. Naxos, Early Music ser. 8550687, 1993.
This budget recording doesn’t make immediately clear the forces required in each of the eighteen pieces, so I thought I’d elaborate for myself. It’s very much a survey album, since the composer’s life spanned Byrd to Purcell. Useful essay by Andrew Ashbee as liner notes. I’m trying to link up recordings of Jenkins’ consorts with the scores/parts available from the Viola da Gamba Society of America website.
Track 1. Pavan in F Major. Consort a6.
Track 2. Fantasia in C Minor. Consort a4, Fantasia no.7
Track 3. Divisions for two basses in C Major.
Track 4. Fantasia in C Minor.
Track 5. Fantasia in F major, All in a Garden Green. Fantasia no.6
Tracks 6-7. Newarke Seidge.
Tracks 8,9, 10. Four-party Are in D Minor: Ayre, Almaine, Coranto.
Tracks 11-13. Fantasia-suite in A Minor: Fantasia, Air, Corant. For treble, bass and organ.
Track 14. Fantasia in C Minor. Fantasia a5, ? no.9
Track 15. Fantasia in D Major. Fantasia a5, ? no.16
Track 16. Fantasia in E Minor. ?Fantasia no.8
Track 17. Four-part ayre in G Minor. Two trebles and two basses?
Track 18. In Nomine in G Minor. Consort a6.
July 19, 2009
Giovanni Paolo Cima, Sonata a 2 per Viole e Violone. CD 1, track 11. Following Psaume III (no.121). 4mins 21secs.
Searching, canzona-like (viol consort theme initially until the elegant violin sound takes over); very much a conversation between two string instruments rather than any strong presence of ‘continuo’ instruments. Not overly ornamented, very much in the style of bastard viol playing in the fast runs, contrasting with the poignant long descending notes.
Sonata a3 per violino, cornetto and violone. C 2, track 3. 3mins 17secs.
Lots of short and long phrases for individual instruments contrasting with more homophonic passages. Beautiful and elegant playing with lots of dance-like lightness – not rushed but sufficiently langorous to allow for the virtuosic runs required in all parts. Great contrast with the a capella singing in which it is interpolated.
Concerti Ecclesiastici a 1,2,3,4,5 e 8 voci. Milano, 1610. Firenze, Studio per edizioni scelte, 1986. Archivum Musicum series, La cantata Barocca. Includes a Capricio a due d’Andrea Cima; Sonata per cornetto, trombone overo Violino e Violone; Sonata a4 of Giovanni Andrea Cima for Violino, e Violone, Cornetto e Trombone, in addition to the two sonatas mentioned here.
Claudio Monteverdi, Vespro della Beata Bergine. Taverner Consort, Taverner Choir, Taverner Players, dir. Andrew Parrott. EMI, CDS 7470788, 1984. Performed on violino, violoncello, cornetto, chitarrone and organo (Andrew Parrott). 440 pitch.
GIOVANNI PAOLO CIMA
Milanese contemporary of Monteverdi’s – with his Concerti Ecclesiastici published in 1610, the year of the Monteverdi Vespers. Hugh Keyte and Andrew Parrott in the recording’s liner notes posit that the six concerti may have been intended to follow the five Psalms and Magnificat of Vespers.
June 5, 2009
Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1701), Lament for soprano, two gambas and basso continuo.
At first hearing on radio, somewhat long-winded – I’ve always found Buxtehude’s writing quite dense, not that I can speak with much experience -, with the singer seeming to work extremely hard, but the pulsing bowing action of the gambas is quite phenomenal and quite exciting. I’m very curious to see how the composer has written out these gamba parts. Coincidentally with the Vivaldi Concerto funebre, yet another example of word painting with gambas and link to the funereal. What I was listening to was from a recording, Dietrich Buxtehude Cantatas and sonatas with the viol, with soprano Benedicte Tauran and Christophe Coin playing one of the two gambas – a funeral Klaglied, Muss der Tod auch entbinden, was kein Fall entbinden kann? I daresay composed in the busy period 1680 to 1687. Worth pursuing with the score, if only to see how his musical inspiration ebbs and flows with the text. Buxtehude was obviously playing with musical form, difficult for modern musicians to come to grips easily with because we’re so used to better known and more solid forms both before and after Buxtehude. Not having had to work as a Kantor I guess afforded him the luxury of composing what and when he wanted, leading to the ‘freedom’ of the music itself.
The recording also features two trio sonatas (Op.1 no.3 and 4 from 1693/4) which are readily accessible via the Icking Music Archive, so this becomes a ready source for further study of Buxtehude’s instrumental music for viol as well.
Ensemble Baroque de Limoges, Christophe Coin. Astree E 8851 (France, 2000, 66:16) 03D022.
Okay, so this is not a baroque concerto for solo bass viol. Unusually, and perhaps, uniquely, it’s a concerto featuring viol consort. How many concertos have ever featured two trebles and a bass as solo instruments? But is the viol consort being used as some sort of defacto, curious concertante orchestra backing to a principal violin? And where is the tenor in this consort – with tentative links to the use of trebles and basses sans tenor by the Germans?
Concerto for muted oboe, chalumeaux, principal violin and viols (two trebles and bass) and basso continuo, in B-flat – Largo/Allegro poco poco and Allegro.
In the Savall recording (run time is 7’44), he plays first treble with Imke David on treble II (with no indication who’s playing the bass viol part) with Bruno Cocset on ‘cello presumably the string basso continuo plus theorbo, with Michael Behringer swapping the organ for harpsichord.
Michael Talbot in the liner notes for Savall Alia Vox recording dates this from around the mid-1720s,which is while the French court is still mourning the death of Louis XIV. I mention that only for those viol players who like me see everything in terms of what was happening in France at the time. Talbot indicates the concerto was played as part of a church service, perhaps honouring a benefactor.
We’re talking principal violin, one or more oboes, one or more tenor chalumeaux, three viols (trtrB), muted strings and continuo. Talbot is perfectly correct in indicating an overall sombre effect with a lot of musical interest and variegated sound within. The introductory slow movement apparently is a re-write of a sinfonia from a 1719 Mantua opera, Act III, Tito Manlio, presumably Vivaldi’s and not one of his pastiches. And the final fugue comes from a concerto a quattro, RV 123.
The Alia Vox liner notes feature the first seven bars from the manuscript score. EuroSheet Music has the score (15euros) and parts (26euros) available.
The sombre tone is established by the opening repeated four-quavers-minum motifs, giving us a sense of pause. We’re not talking doleful here because it is still in B-flat major. The pearl of this stately Largo is the extraordinary aural treat via a trill from the woodwinds, about 3/4 the way through. We get there via the very dry viols – no violinistic exuberance, at least until the cadential violin which leads us nicely into a slightly more pacey (but still relatively stately) Allegro. The opening statement still features woodwind trills, but this time with delicate waterfall like descending scales from the upper strings. The development features more solo passages from each of the instruments in turn, so it’s still not sounding like a violin concerto by another name. A nice fullsome coda to finish. The final movement is ‘truer’ Vivaldi as we know him best, with a certain triumphalism creeping in (including a return, once again, to strong woodwind trills). Talbot remarks that in the final two movements, the viols have no independent passages.