THE TUDOR CHOIR BOOK VOL I
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About this release
The album includes rare recordings of Tudor instrumental items by Coperario, Bassano and Ferrabosco, captured on period instruments, as well as choral greats from Tallis, Batten, Morley and Phillips, performed by the Croydon Minster Choir of Whitgift School, accompanied by the English Cornett & Sackbut Enesmble and directed by Ronny Krippner.
Commissioned Programme Note
The advent of metrical psalters was mainly, although not exclusively, the trademark of the Protestant church. The Renaissance historian, Dr Jonathan Willis, argues that:
“Metrical Psalmody was a purely optional activity which found a place in the church because of its genuine popular nature […] In attempting to facilitate congregational psalmody, the cathedrals had begun to negotiate for themselves a new religious dynamic, and a new role in English society.”
These psalms were therefore intended to be sung by the choir and the congregation, very much like hymns today. In 1566, a stock of metrical psalters – probably the newly-published Sternhold and Hopkins Psalter of 1562 – was purchased for Canterbury Cathedral, and two of the Psalms on this record were taken from that very same edition, including the well-known Genevan melody to Psalm 100. The orchestral arrangement of the latter is particularly well known today and was written by Ralph Vaughan Williams for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.[read more=”Read more” less=”Read less”]
Another metrical psalm, which caught Vaughan Williams’ attention early on in his career, was Thomas Tallis’ Phrygian melody to Psalm 2, published in 1567 in Archbishop Parker’s Psalter. This wonderful modal tune was the inspiration for Vaughan Williams’ iconic work, Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, written in 1910.
Adrian Batten (1591–1637) was organist, singer and composer at Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral. His Short Communion Service is surprisingly plain and simple in style, yet full of grace and dignity. This was probably to please evangelical sensibilities who wished liturgical music to be “modeste and destyncte”, able to be “playnelye understanded, as if it were read without singing” (Royal Injunctions of 1559).
Another reason for the simple homophonic style of Batten’s setting could be the low status of the service of Holy Communion itself within the Anglican Church at that time. In 1563, for instance, the celebrations of communion were reduced to one a month at Canterbury Cathedral and were usually “dry”, meaning that they ended after the creed.
The contrast between Batten’s simple Communion setting and Thomas Morley’s First Service is plain to hear, as Morley’s composition is poles apart from the simplicity prescribed by Archbishop Cranmer a generation earlier. Morley (1577–1602), who was organist at St Paul’s Cathedral and a pupil of William Byrd, displays a real mastery of counterpoint and melodic writing in both his Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis. The Royal Injunctions of 1559 not only encouraged simple evangelical music, but also catered for the “comforting of such as delyte in musicke”, and allowed for “the best sorte of melody and musicke that maye be convenientlye devysed.” This sort of statement is typical for the Anglican via media in regards to music; both plain and more elaborate styles were deemed acceptable.
However, being a publicly-practising Roman Catholic in England at that time was not acceptable, and, for this reason, Peter Philips (1561/62– 1628) was forced to leave his home country and settle in Brussels, where he was organist to the chapel of Albert VII, Archduke of Austria.
Philips was an extremely prolific composer, whose sacred choral output was intended for Roman Catholic worship and, as a result, set to Latin texts – which made performances in Protestant England impossible. Bow Down Thine Ear is a contrafactum (text substitution) for Philips’ madrigal Cantai mentre of 1596, possibly arranged by one of Philips’ English colleagues, such as Thomas Morley.
The Chapel Royal were probably the most prodigious poachers of musical talent in the English Renaissance. In 1597, when Nathaniel Giles (1558–1633) was made Master of the Children of the Chapel Royal, he was granted a warrant to:
“take suche and so many children as he… shall thinke meete”, in order that the Chapel “should be furnished well with singing Children.”
These extreme chorister recruitment measures ensured high-quality music-making for the Chapel Royal, and enabled it to play a key role in nurturing English church music.
Archbishop John Whitgift (1530–1604) The anthem God, Which As On This Day, based on the Collect for Whit Sunday, shows Giles as a most competent composer of choral music, written in the English verse anthem style.
It is difficult to assess fully the quality of sacred music written during John Whitgift’s time as Archbishop. The poor survival rate of manuscript sources from that period may prevent us from ever having a complete understanding of the choral output of cathedral composers in particular. Willis argues that:
“the Elizabethan period cannot accurately be described as a period either of stasis or decline for cathedrals. Rather, it was a period of evolution, of accommodation with the priorities of the new Protestant national church, and of the negotiation of a liturgical and ceremonial practice which balanced the requirements of the state with the desires of the community that lived within its precincts, and the wider community that worshipped there.”
Although he is not exclusively commenting on the state of music in the English Church, it is reasonable to apply Willis’ comment to the state of church music in cathedrals at that time.
Two of the instrumental items recorded on this CD (Bassano’s Fantasia and Ferrabosco’s Exaudi Deus) are taken from partbooks known as Fitzwilliam 734, which used to belong to the cornett and sackbut players in the employ of James I.
It is possible that Fantasias of that style served as ceremonial music at Canterbury Cathedral and would have certainly added to the sense of occasion during Whitgift’s regular visitations as Archbishop.
(Ronny Krippner, 2017)[/read]
About the artists
The English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble is a virtuoso period instrument ensemble with a host of distinguished recordings to its name.
Since its formation in 1993, ECSE has performed at many major music festivals in the UK and abroad. They have held sell-out concerts at London’s Wigmore Hall, St John’s Smith Square and the Purcell Room. Other performances include York Early Music Festival, Bath International Festival, Spitalfields Festival, La Folle Journée, Laus Polyphoniae, and the International Izmir Festival.
ECSE regularly travels abroad with vocal ensembles inlcuding I Fagiolini, Alamire and Cantus Cölln. The group has appeared on numerous CDs. The Spy’s Choirbook with David Skinner and Alamire won the prestigious 2015 Gramophone Award for Early Music.
Following the success of its 5-star debut CD Accendo (2001) ECSE has been involved in a variety of recordings. These include The Madrigal in Venice, a large-scale recording of Andrea Gabrieli’s madrigals with I Fagiolini. It was described as ‘one of the most enthralling madrigal anthologies on the market’.
Its discography also includes the world premiere of Francesco Scarlatti’s ‘Miserere’ with Emma Kirkby and The Armonico Consort. It also includes a critically acclaimed Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610, and a CD of music by the Flemish composer Philippe Rogier with the choir of King’s College London, directed by the late (and much missed) David Trendell. 2011 saw the release of Le Divin Arcadelt with Musica Contexta, and a further CD collaboration with I Fagiolini: the world premiere recording of the momentous 40-part mass Ecco si beato giorno by Alessandro Striggio, which scooped both the Gramophone Award for Early Music and the Diapason d’Or.
ECSE has released two further solo discs. The first, entitled A Hanseatic Festival (2004) is a recital of German music. Flower Of Cities All (2008) features music from Shakespeare’s London. In 2012 ECSE gave solo recitals at the York Early Music Festival, Dartington International Summer School and Kings Place. The same year saw the release of two new recordings. Byrd’s Great Service with Musica Contexta (Chaconne), and the follow-up to the Striggio disc, entitled 1612 Italian Vespers with Robert Hollingworth and I Fagiolini (Decca). The latter was performed at that years BBC Proms. In 2013 the group also featured on a Peter Philips CD with the choir of Royal Holloway College (Hyperion).
ECSE also works closely with other like-minded instrumental ensembles such as the Monteverdi String Band and the Altenburg Ensemble. They perform regularly with choral societies throughout Britain, including many performances of Claudio Monteverdi’s magnificent 1610 Vespers.
ECSE members also perform individually with some of the worlds leading period instrument groups. Collaborations include Il Giardino Armonico, The Taverner Consort, Concerto Palatino, the Gabrieli Consort and Players, l’Arpeggiata, The English Baroque Soloists, King’s Consort, Ensemble La Fenice, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Tafelmusik. ECSE also provide music for plays at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre on London’s Bankside.
Visit website: English Cornett & Sackbut Ensemble
The Choir of Whitgift School is based at Croydon Minster, which is deeply rooted in the Anglican choral tradition. It boasts over 70 singers in its four choirs: the Choir of Boys & Men, the Girls’ Choir, the Choral Scholars and Lay Clerks. There are five choral services each week during term time, as well as regular concerts throughout the year. All choirs have toured, broadcast and recorded.
Over the years, the Minster has developed strong links with Whitgift School and the School has now become a major part of the Minster’s rich choral programme. More than half of the Minster boy choristers attend Whitgift School where they receive a Minster Choristership carrying a remission of day fees of 10%. Whitgift also provides postgraduate Organ and Choral Scholars, as well as professional Lay Clerks to sing regularly with the Minster Boys’ Choir, enabling the Minster to run a busy schedule of cathedral-style choral services.
Ronny Krippner is Organist and Director of Choral Music at Croydon Minster and Whitgift School (London).
Born in Bavaria, Ronny is in the unique position of having been formed in both the German and British choral traditions. He studied organ playing and improvisation with Prof. Franz-Josef Stoiber at the Hochschule für Kirchenmusik in Regensburg while at the same time working as Assistant Choirmaster of the Regensburger Domspatzen” (“Regensburg Cathedral Sparrows”), Regensburg Cathedral’s famous boys’ choir. After graduating, Ronny went to Exeter University to take his master’s degree (M.A.) in “English Cathedral Music” whilst singing in the Cathedral Choir as a Choral Scholar. Building on these twin musical foundations, Ronny went on to take up various organist posts, including St George’s Church Hanover Square in London.
Being fascinated from an early age by organ improvisation, Ronny has made this a specialism. Finalist in the prestigious Organ Improvisation Competition in St Albans in 2009, he won two Prizes in the International Organ Improvisation Competition in Biarritz in the same year. From 2010-2013, Ronny was Specialist Lecturer for Organ Improvisation at Birmingham Conservatoire and Trinity Laban Conservatoire, London.
Ronny has recorded several CDs of organ and choir music and has frequently been heard performing on television and radio, both in Germany and the UK. He has given organ recitals in Germany, Holland, Belgium, the United Kingdom, the United States, Mexico and Australia.
- Fantasia - Giovanni Coperario
- Psalm 2: Why fum'th in sight - Thomas Tallis
- Short Communion Service: Credo - Adrian Batten
- Short Communion Service: Sanctus - Adrian Batten
- Short Communion Service: Gloria - Adrian Batten
- God, Which As On This Day - Nathaniel Giles
- First Service: Magnificat - Thomas Morley
- First Service: Nunc Dimittis - Thomas Morley
- Exaudi Deus - Alfonso Ferrabosco The Elder
- Bow Down Thine Ear - Peter Philips
- Psalm 77: I with my voice to God do cry - Anon.
- Out Of The Deep - Thomas Morley
- O Sing Joyfully - Adrian Batten
- Psalm 100: All people that on earth do dwell - Louis Bourgeois
- Fantasia - Jerome Bassano
Catalogue Number: CR042
Choir Croydon Minster Choir of Whitgift School
Ensemble English Cornett & Sackbut Ensemble (Gawain Glenton, Conor Hastings, Nicholas Perry, Catherine Motuz, Emily White, Tom Lees, Andrew Harwood-White, Adrian France)
Organ Tom Little
Violone Uri Smilansky
Conductor Ronny Krippner
Photography Mike Cooter
Engineering Adaq Khan
Mastering Adaq Khan
Producer Andrew King
Creative Director John Bevan
Executive Producer Adrian Green
Recorded 25, 27 March, 2017
Venue Croydon Minster, London
Total Duration 57 mins