Tamesis Issue 173
After my mention last month of the Tallis for 40 loudspeakers in Norwich, I received the following letter from the Secretary of NWEMF: Dear Victoria, I have just read your editorial in Tamesis - I saw, or rather heard the exhibition you refer to at the Millennium Galleries in Sheffield last year. The performers were the Choir of Salisbury Cathedral, augmented by a few luminaries such as Rogers Covey-Crump. There were about 46 names on the list - I imagine that some of the less experienced choirboys were doubled by older singers. An interesting experience ! Best wishes, Ann Radcliffe I was interested to read in the MEMF Chairman’s Annual Report that they have two baroque style violins (and an unusual ‘Wagner’ viola) available for loan to members. One of my flute pupils is thinking about getting a baroque flute, so please let me know (details on cover) if you have one you might like to sell. Next month’s copy date is Monday 11th July. There may not be an August issue so make sure you send me any information for August and early September in time for the July edition. Many thanks to Penny Vinson and Sidney Ross for their reviews this month.
I enjoyed the TVEMF Schutz day with Peter Syrus, though audibility was sometimes a problem, as he speaks quite softly. The following weekend I and several other TVEMF members attended a cornett, sackbut and curtal course in Newark run by Jamie Savan and Adam Woolf of the Gonzaga Band. It was excellent - we performed in the castle grounds and a few of us played from the church tower. The result was remarkably audible in the town square far below, so next year it is hoped to have answering music from the Town Hall balcony. I had the interesting experience of hearing "Selig sind die Toten" (which we sang with Peter Syrus) performed by cornetts and sackbuts. Beautiful in either guise. If anyone is interested in knowing a bit more about the Newark course, Wayne Plummer has made a web page with a short review and some pictures at www.plummer-family.me.uk/holidaysnaps/2005-05/Newark/ The letters containing proofs of the Early Music Yearbook have been sent out. If you didn't get one and would like to be in the Yearbook then the easiest way is to visit www.nema-uk.org, click on Add entry, then fill in the form - it's free. If you know of organisations relevant to early music, such as societies, music publishers or magazines, that aren't in the Yearbook then you can email emdirectory @ nema-uk.org or enter their details using the same web site. The Yearbook is free to members of the National Early Music Association.
Schütz at the Dutch Church, 21st May 2005
Peter Syrus was our tutor for the day in the very comfortable surroundings of the Dutch church. He had prepared a very helpful information sheet, giving details of Schütz’s life and works and relevant literature. It also included a glimpse into a (then) current controversy on the adoption of Italian practices (eg basso continuo) by German composers. One player in the controversy argued for the necessity of a good musical grounding before attempting contrapuntal music. Peter explained that Schütz’s “Geistliche Chor Musik” appeared to be Schütz’s practical response to this controversy as it was dedicated to the Leipzig City Fathers as a gift for the choir of St Thomas’s School in Leipzig, a place noted for the quality of the musical training offered there. From the Chor Musik Peter had brought nine quite varied motets (only one of which I had previously sung). Somewhat to his surprise, we managed to tackle seven of them in the course of the day and, whilst in the downstairs room of the church, were giving quite creditable performances. We shifted to the actual church for the final run-through where, unfortunately, despite the better acoustic, a degree of insecurity seemed to creep in, and it took all of Peter’s considerable skill to hold things together. This was a slightly disappointing end to an otherwise very enjoyable and satisfying day. I confess to being a ‘fan’ of Schütz and don’t get nearly enough opportunities to sing his music. The day was enhanced by Peter’s enthusiasm, lightly worn erudition, good humour and helpful comments on pronunciation and interpretation. He is also to be commended for thorough preparation for the day. I was personally grateful for the information sheet, thus ensuring I did not repeat my past error of confusing the 30 Years War with the 100 Years War as I did on one previous occasion. The 30 Years War started in 1618 when Schütz was 33. He lived, however, until the age of 87. Considering this longevity, the surviving body of work does not seem to be huge, but there definitely seems to be scope for further workshops in the future, which under the guidance of Peter Syrus I can thoroughly recommend. Thanks to Jeff for organising the event, and David for the refreshments.
Andrea Gabrieli at St Augustine’s, Kilburn, June 4th-5th.
Twenty-six members gathered at St Augustine’s to sing the Mass Quando lieti sperai and the motets Laetare Hierusalem, Beatus vir qui suffert and Caro mea. The proceedings were directed by Michael Procter with his customary mixture of panache, erudition, and eccentric warm-ups. Our exploration of the programme began with the madrigal which gives its title to the mass. Michael’s edition attributes the madrigal to Rore (?) [or Cristobal de Morales ?], the latter possibility coming as something of a surprise to those of us who are unacquainted with Morales as a composer of secular music. Robert Stevenson, in the New Grove, admits only five works to the Morales secular canon but appends a list of 22 “doubtful and misattributed works” in which Quando lieti sperai is described as having been attributed to Morales in 1584, but as being actually by Rore. Alvin Johnson’s article on Rore in the same publication lists the madrigal among his works with the annotation (? by Morales). It took a while for us to settle down to some serious work but, after a series of reshuffles which would not have been out of place in a Conservative shadow cabinet, we reached a stable formation only disturbed by Neil’s oscillations between the tenor and alto sections. In the course of the day we were introduced to a bewildering variety of concepts. Some, such as the structure of the Renaissance Kyrie, were not unfamiliar, but the more novel among them ranged from the purely musical (the infinitely extensible plagal cadence) through the musico- mystical (the relentless eternal pulse) to the aesthetico-musical (the way in which the setting physically mirrors the words, illustrated by the shape of the music to which the word “uberibus” is set in Laetare) and, at the extreme edge, the contribution of singers of Renaissance music to global warming (or possibly the reduction in global warming). Apparently we all need more carbon dioxide and less oxygen. Michael steered us through the complexities of the music with exemplary patience and good humour, thereby coaxing a performance from us which, while not without its rough edges, was very creditable in (as we lawyers say) all the circumstances. The decision to sing Beatus vir and Caro mea, scrambled, from the chancel steps, turned out to be a particularly inspired one. Although it may not be usual to mention individuals, I very much enjoyed hearing Hazel in the role of cantor in the non-Gabrieli parts of the service. This note would be incomplete without an expression of our warmest thanks to Penny Vinson for all that she did to make our environment as congenial as possible, thus substantially enhancing the success of a most rewarding occasion.