A Year End Look

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Program: #21-53   Air Date: Dec 27, 2021

Some of the late year releases appropriate for the season and a look into 2022.

I. An Elizabethan Christmas

(Helen Charlston, mz./Fretwork). Signum CD SIGCD 680.


Viol consort Fretwork and mezzo soprano Helen Charlston explore the more reflective and sombre Christmas celebrations of Elizabethan England, in a collection of works by William Byrd, Anthony Holborne, Orlando Gibbons and Martin Peerson.

With celebrations confined strictly to the 12 days from Christmas Eve to Epiphany, the preceding Advent was regarded as a time of religious introspection, with music composed to mark both fasting and feasting. Byrd’s consort songs for voice and 5 viols encompass this range, from the joyous Out of the Orient Crystal Skies – ending with an exuberant ‘Falantidingdido’, a word whose meaning is lost to history – to his Lullaby, a ‘song of sadnes and pietie’ that became one of Byrd’s most enduringly famous songs.

In 2021, Fretwork celebrates its 35th anniversary. In the past three and a half decades they have explored the core repertory of great English consort music, from Taverner to Purcell, and made classic recordings against which others are judged. In addition to this, Fretwork have become known as pioneers of contemporary music for viols, having commissioned over 40 new works.

Acclaimed for her musical interpretation, presence and “warmly distinctive tone” (The Telegraph), Helen Charlston is quickly cementing herself as a key performer in the next generation of British singers. Helen won first prize in the 2018 Handel Singing Competition and was a finalist in the Hurn Court Opera Competition, and the Grange Festival International Singing Competition.

  1. Out of the Orient Crystal Skies William Byrd
  2. Pavan Anthony Holborne
  3. As it Fell on Holie Eve Anthony Holborne
  4. “From Virgin’s Womb – Rejoice, Rejoice” William Byrd
  5. The Cradle Anthony Holborne
  6. Lullabie Anthony Holborne
  7. Lullaby William Byrd
  8. 7 Fantasias ‘For Ye Great Dooble Bass’: No. 1 a 4 Orlando Gibbons
  9. “An Earthly Tree – Cast off All Doubtful Care” William Byrd
  10. Attendite Martin Peerson
  11. Upon my Lap, my Sovereign Sits Martin Peerson
  12. To Shorten Winter’s Sadnesse Thomas Weelkes
  13. 7 Fantasias ‘For Ye Great Dooble Bass’: No. 2 a 4 Orlando Gibbons
  14. Sweet was the Song the Virgin sang Anonymous
  15. The New-Yeares Gift Anthony Holborne
  16. Heigh Ho Holiday Anthony Holborne
  17. O God That Guides the Cheerful Sun William Byrd

II. Augsburger Weihnacht

(Ensemble FAMA). Perfect Noise CD PN 1802.


A festive christmas concert of motets, songs and instrumental settings, telling about the coming Saviour and his birth. A 17th century christmas night in Augsburg.

It is part and parcel of the close relationship to Augsburg shared by all of the featured composers that the concerns of both Christian faiths, the Catholic and the Protestant, are taken into account in their music.

The music as such was considered tob e above and beyond denomination. Music in ist striving for “harmony“ overcomes all human conflict with the promise of the eternal peace of Christmas, disclosed by the angel’s hymn of the biblical Annuciation: “Et in terra pax hominibus."

1. Verbum Caro Factum Est
Composed By – Hans Leo Haßler

2. Canzona La Paglia
Composed By – Christian Erbach

3. Magnificat Dell'Settimo Tuono
Composed By – Hans Leo Haßler

4, Conditor Alme Siderum Pro Adventus Domini
Composed By – Tobias Eisenhuet*

5. Sonata Quarta
Composed By – Johann Erasmus Kindermann

6. Puellule Decore
Composed By – Johann Melchior Gletle

7. Lasst Uns Das Kindlein Wiegen
Composed By – Jakob Gippenbusch

8. Variationes Super Cantilenam Lasst Uns Das Kindlein Wiegen Per Imitationem Cuculi
Composed By – Franz Xaver Anton Murschhauser

9. Suite In G-Moll
Composed By – Johann Fischer

10. Suite In A-Moll
Composed By – Jakob Scheiffelhut

11. Vom Himmel Hoch Da Komm Ich Her
Composed By – Adam Gumpelzhaimer

12. Ricercar Primo Quarti Toni
Composed By – Carl Van Der Hoeven

13. In Die Natalis Domini, Laudate Omnes Gentes
Composed By – Jacob Paix

14. Jubilate Deo Omnis Terra
Composed By – Hans Leo Haßler

15. Partita In C-Dur
Composed By – Matthias Kelz

16. In Dulci Jubilo
Composed By – Johannes Eccard

III. The Secret Life of Carols

(The Telling). First Hand Records CD FHR94.

The Telling:

Clare Norburn voice
Ariane Prüssner voice & frame drum
Kaisa Pulkkinen medieval harp & baroque harp
Jean Kelly medieval harp & celtic harp

The Secret Life of Carols brings together a mixture of the earliest medieval English carols and traditional carols from across Europe. The title is inspired by the fact that many carols have intertwined roots, dating back centuries, often to the Middle Ages, with melodies being adapted and reinvented, and new sets of words written.

  1. Lullay, my child
  2. Es kommt ein Schiff, geladen
  3. O Jesulein süß, BWV 493
  4. Christmas Eve (Tommy Coen’s reel)
  5. Gabriel fram evene king
  6. Stille Nacht
  7. Lullay, lullay, als I lay on Yoolis Nicht
  8. El Noi de la Mare
  9. Maria durch ein’ Dornwald ging
  10. Maa on niin kaunis
  11. Verbum Caro Factum Est
  12. Coventry Carol
  13. Heinillä härkien kaukalon
  14. Patapan
  15. As I lay upon a night
  16. Nowell, nowell (Salutation Carol)

Composer Info

William Byrd, Anthony Holborne, Orlando Gibbons, Martin Peerson, Thomas Weelkes, Hans Leo Haßler, Christian Erbach, Tobias Eisenhuet, Johann Erasmus Kindermann, Johann Melchior Gletle, Jakob Gippenbusch, Franz Xaver Anton Murschhauser, Johann Fischer, Jakob Scheiffelhut, Adam Gumpelzhaimer, Carl Van Der Hoeven, Jacob Paix, Matthias Kelz, Johannes Eccard

CD Info

Signum CD SIGCD 680, Perfect Noise CD PN 1802, First Hand Records CD FHR94