Naxos Distribution—Three More Early Baroque Discs

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Program: #15-07   Air Date: Feb 09, 2015

NOTE: All of the programs once again this month feature recordings that are part of the expanded Naxos Distribution family. A rarely-heard Swiss composer, the great Englishman Thomas Tomkins, and madrigals of madness at the turn of the 17th century.


 for more information:


I. Madrigals of Madness (Calmus Ensemble). Carus CD 83.387.

Madrigals of Madness

The Calmus Ensemble presents madrigals of the 16th and 17th centuries on this CD, which includes masterpieces by Gibbons, Flecha, Monteverdi, Gesualdo and Josquin des Prés. This CD initiates a larger series of recordings featuring the Calmus Ensemble: In the coming years they will record various madrigal programs dealing with the different emotions. "Madrigals of Madness" marks the start of this undertaking, and takes as its theme, as the title indicates, the subject of madness, as it is encountered in love, war or loneliness – this is a complex theme which Calmus expresses masterfully and convincingly with high emotionality. The CD-Booklet expands the musical exploration of this theme from a medical point of view through an interview with a psychaitrist.

Orlando Gibbons - What is our life?
Mateo Flecha - La bomba
Claudio Monteverdi - Lasciatemi morire (Nr. 1 aus: Lamento d'Arianna)
Claudio Monteverdi - O Teseo, Teseo mio (Nr. 2 aus: Lamento d'Arianna)
Claudio Monteverdi - Dove, dov'è la fede (Nr. 3 aus: Lamento d'Arianna)
Claudio Monteverdi - Ahi, ch'ei non pur risponde (Nr. 4 aus: Lamento d'Arianna)
Carlo Gesualdo di Venosa - Felicissimo sonno
Carlo Gesualdo di Venosa - O dolorosa gioia
Carlo Gesualdo di Venosa - Moro lasso
Carlo Gesualdo di Venosa - Già piansi
Josquin des Préz - Scaramella
Clément Janequin - La guerre
Thomas Tomkins - Too much I once lamented


II. Thomas Tomkins—When David Heard: Sacred Choral Works (Choir of St. John’s College, Cambridge/Freddie James, organ/Andrew Nethsingha). Chandos Chaconne CD CHAN 0804.

When David Heard: Sacred Choral Works by Thomas Tomkins

From Thomas Tomkins worked well into the 17th century, his public career coming to an end only in 1642 as a result of England's Civil War, and organ works for his own use (such as the unique A Sad Pavan for Distracted Times, heard here) were written even after that. His music reflects no trace of the Baroque procedures that were well entrenched by then, even in England, but to call him conservative, as is so often done, misses the point even though it is technically accurate. Tomkins wrote quite a few madrigals in a style not that far from Thomas Morley's (the two were both students of William Byrd). His sacred music, not often recorded and nicely represented here, is uniquely madrigalian, often with an intensely emotional response to the text that's rare even in the works of the Italian mannerists. Did he get that from the Baroque, or was it simply his own musical personality? Either way, a piece like the magnificent When David heard that Absalom was slain (track 1) has few counterparts in English sacred music, and the whole program ought to be heard more often than it is. Director Andrew Nethsingha understands that a classically impersonal English collegiate choir sound is not what is called for here, and he molds the Choir of St. John College, Cambridge, into a very expressive instrument. When David heard that Absalom was slain, for example, is given a hushed, genuinely tragic atmosphere, and the choir's emotional range under Nethsingha is impressive. There are British choirs with greater pitch precision in complex high-up textures, but in general this is a collection of Renaissance polyphony that's both beautiful and often very moving.

When David heard that Absalom was slain, full anthem a 5 [5:28]
Almighty God, which has knit together, verse anthem a 8 and organ [5:09]
Sixth Service:
Magnificat a 5 and organ [5:40]
Nunc dimittis a 5 and organ [2:49]
Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, full anthem a 5 [7:14]
A sad pavan for these distracted times for keyboard [3:30]
My shepherd is the living Lord, verse anthem a 4 and organ [3:51]
Behold, I bring you glad tidings, verse anthem a 10 and organ [3:39]
Voluntary in a minor for organ [3:32]
Third ('Great') Service:
Jubilate a 10 and organ [7:09]
Clarifica me Pater for organ [2:25]
Third ('Great') Service:
Te Deum a 10 and organ [11:45]


III. Musik der Benediktiner—Valentin Molitor Motteten (1683). (Basler Madrigalisten/Musica Fiorita/Daniela Dolci). Pan Classics CD PC 10313.

Dolci/ Musica Fiorita/ Basler Madrigalisten Motetten-Musik der Benediktiner,Kloster St.Gall Other Choral Music

The Epinicion Marianum (“Song of Praise to the Virgin Mary”) by Valentin Molitor, published in 1683, contains a total of 18 motets. The collection comprises music for six feasts of Our Lady of the liturgical calendar. Two five-part motets and a solo motet were intended for each feast, always with two obbligato violins and other instruments ad libitum. On this recording a selection of pieces for all feasts can be heard.
The volume was probably published on the occasion of Molitor’s appointment as First Cantor of St. Gallen Monastery where the use of instruments in the liturgy was particularly restricted. Beginning in 1645, performing concertante music was only permitted at special festivities. Father Molitor appears to have counteracted this conservative tendency: the first collections of a local composer written in concertante style, as well as the first to be printed at the Monastery.
The harpsichordist and leader of the ensemble Musica Fiorita, Daniela Dolci (a native of Sicily), studied early music at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel, specialising on historical keyboard instruments. Subsequently she went to Amsterdam for further training with Gustav Leonhardt. Her main focus — is the historical basso continuo practice, based on 17th and 18th century sources.

Magnus Dominus
Nunc dimittis servum tuum Domine
Sancta et immaculata virginitas
Plangite mortalis
O Maria Mater Dei
Viderunt omnes fines terrae
Suscepimus Deus misericordiam tuam
Beata es Virgo Maria
Suscipe verbum Virgo Maria
Beatissimae Virginis Mariae nativitatem
Tota pulchra es amica mea

Composer Info

Valentin Molitor Motteten (1683), Thomas Tomkins, Orlando Gibbons, Thomas Tomkins, Clément Janequin, Josquin des Préz, Mateo Flecha, Carlo Gesualdo di Venosa, Claudio Monteverdi.

CD Info

Carus CD 83.387, Pan Classics CD PC 10313, Chandos Chaconne CD CHAN 0804.