Shakespeare, Part 1

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Program: #15-16   Air Date: Apr 13, 2015

As we come to the end of the celebrations for the Bard’s 450th year, we hear three releases of consort music from the time.

Shakespeare, Part 1

NOTE: As we come to the end of the celebrations for the Bard’s 450th year, we hear three releases of consort music from the time.

I. Captain Tobias Hume: A Scottish Soldier (Concerto Caledonia). Delphian CD DCD34140.

Captain Tobias Hume: A Scottish Soldier

Jonathan Woolf from MusicWeb International: Tobias Hume seems to have taken a sternly realistic look at his own life: ‘My Profession being, as my Education hath beene, Armes, the only effeminate part of me hathe beene Musicke.’ It was a theme to which he was to recur, amplifying the division more starkly still: ‘My Life hath beene a Souldier and my idleness addicted to Musicke.’ Effeminacy and idleness are clearly anathema to the fighting soldier that Hume presumably was, though biographical details are thin on the ground. He may have been born around 1565 to 1579. He certainly died in 1645. His petitions show an increasingly decrepit man, one whose balancing of warfare and music-making had not proved gratifyingly rewarding. It’s believed that he served in Sweden, Denmark, Russia and Poland and recent research seems to show that he was Scottish and not, as long believed, English. John Dowland certainly had little time for Hume, calling him ‘a stranger from beyond the seas’.

Two books of his music were published in the first decade of the seventeenth century; The First Part of Ayres or Captain Humes Musicall Humors in 1605 and the Poeticall Musicke two years later. The books promote short character and dance pieces as well as pastiches and instrumental lamentation, not forgetting the suggestion of foreign dance patterns - from Poland, for instance, where he had probably served as a soldier. Only five of the 22 tracks are of songs, the remainder being a series of Galliards, Alemains and the like. It’s as well to note here that Concerto Caledonia do absolutely splendid things for Hume. They play with captivating verve, energy and character. The renaissance flute is heard to great advantage in the airy Fain would I change that note and the bass viol sounds excellent in its solo outing on Be merry a day will come as does the orpharion that joins it in A Toy. One can also enjoy the nyckelharpa in several pieces as well as the sound of the lyra d’amore, though what historical evidence there is for their use I can’t say.

Programming ensures that the recital is varied, that the fast Start; The Lady of Sussex delight, for instance, is followed by a slower but intriguing A Pollish Vilanell. It’s clearly a villanelle but it’s very doubtful that it’s Polish. The songs are sung with equal fervour and commitment by Thomas Walker who dispatches Hume’s hymn to tobacco with lusty panache and elsewhere is scrupulous to get the right accent in these settings. For all his later despondency, he doesn’t sound especially so in The Souldiers Song with its trumpet imitations in the vocal line and its celebratory exultation; ‘O this is musicke worth the eare of Jove’.

There’s no doubt that Hume was not above appropriating Dowland’s idiom now and then. A galliard 3 sounds very Dowland-like. However, in the main, where Hume does stray into Dowland’s waters he is proved to be the less analytical and creative artist by some way though often energetic and energising, for sure.

This has all been done so well that the interpretative and instrumental panache to be heard sometimes even obscures the occasionally threadbare musical invention. Still, this is a fine reclamation and should be thoroughly appealing to the inquisitive.

1 A mery conceit: The Q[ueens] delight
2 What greater griefe
3 A Spanish humor: The Lord Hayes favoret
4 Fain would I change that note
5 The virgins muse: The Lady Arbellaes favoret
6 Be merry a day will come / A Toy / Ha Couragie
7 A Toy / A Merry meeting
8 A Galliard 3
9 Start: The Lady of Sussex delight
10 A Pollish Vilanell
11 Tobacco
12 Maister Crasse his Almayne / A Galliard 5
13 The Earle of Pembrookes Galiard
14 The Souldiers Song
15 A Souldiers Galiard
16 Tickell, Tickell / I Am Falling / Tickle me Quickly
17 Captaine Humes Galliard
18 My hope is revived: The Lady of Suffolkes delight
19 Cease leaden slumber: The Queenes New-yeeres gift
20 An Almayne / The Spirit of the Almayne
21 The Dukes Almaine: The Duke of Holstones delight
22 Give you go[o]d morrowe Madam


II. In Search of Dowland: Consort Music (bFIVE Recorder Consort). Civil Classics CDCOV 91415.

 In Search of Dowland: Consort Music of John Dowland & Carl Rütti

Victoria Helby in Early Music Review: Dowland’s collection of five-part consort music, Lachrimae or Seaven Teares was completed in 1603 while the composer was employed as a lute player at the court of the Danish king Christian IV and dedicated to the king’s sister Queen Anne of Scotland. It was published in England the following year. Seven “passionate pavans” based on Dowland’s famous song “Flow my teares” are central to the collection which also includes livelier dance music. Three of the Lachrimae pavans are included on this disc, together with some of the galliards and almains. These are interleaved with a five-movement contemporary work by the Swiss composer Carl Rütti, commissioned by B-Five in 2013 to mark Dowland’s 450th birthday and the tenth anniversary of the consort. Dowland’s Lachrimae were “set forth for the Lute, Viols, or Violons” but work very well on five recorders, as every recorder player will know. Rütti’s haunting Dowland-Suite is based on Dowland motifs, sometimes clearly stated and sometimes considerably transformed, and the five movements recount stages in his life. B-Five have designed their performance so that these motifs are heard in an adjacent Dowland piece, and the result is a very pleasing and coherent programme. I’m not too keen on the few percussive thumps in the last movement of the Rütti, which sound as if someone has dropped their music and got rather annoyed about it, but they are probably more effective in a live concert. Otherwise, it’s all beautifully played with precise articulation and intonation on a set of renaissance recorders made by Adrian Brown.

Carl Rütti
Introduction (to be 5 for Dowland)
John Dowland
Captaine Digorie Piper his Galiard
Lachrimae Verae
M. Henry Noel his Galiard
M. John Langtons Pavan
M. Buctons Galiard
M. George Whitehead his Almand
Carl Rütti Chanson avec deux oiseaux
John Dowland Lachrimae Coactae
M. Nicholas Gryffith his Galiard
Mistresse Nichols Almand
Semper Dowland semper dolens
Carl Rütti Fantasia
With the King of Denmark
John Dowland Lachrimae Gementes
Sir John Souch his Galiard
The Earle of Essex Galiard



III. The Hunt is Up: Shakespeare’s Songbook (The Playfords). Raul Klang CD RK 3404.

The Hunt is Up: Shakespeare's Songbook

Shakespeare's works are full of musical allusions and quotations; sometimes they are there to provide subtle information, sometimes just to provoke a laugh; However, they only work when the audience knows the appropriate template well. Conversely, we can therefore create a list of popular songs of the time from Shakespeare's plays, a project that the American musicologist Ross W. Duffin has studied and published. His "Shakespeare's Songbook” has been used by The Playfords as a real book, improvising with gusto and, as in Shakespeare's Globe Theatre which expressed the clash of all walks of life, there is something for everyone--from the leg-throbbing obscenity for the common people, to witty cryptic allusion to the distinguished elite - a musical panorama of English society during the late Renaissance.

01. "Hunting the hare"

02. "The English hunt's up - The hunt is up - O sweet Oliver - An old hare hoar - Wilson's wilde"

03. "Sir Eglamore"

04. "Awake ye woeful wights"

05. "Willow, willow"

06. "Fortune my foe"

07. "Peg a Ramsey"

08. "Sedany or Dargason - Eighty-eight - Fill the cup"

09. "Broom, broom, the bonny, bonny broom"

10. "O mistress mine"

11. "You spotted snakes"

12. "Sigh no more, ladies"

13. "Kettle drum - Kemp's jig - Paul's steeple"

14. "Scottish hunt's up - When that I was"

Composer Info

Jonathan Woolf 1565-1645, Ross W. Duffin, John Dowland, Captain Tobias Hume, Carl Rütti,

CD Info

Delphian CD DCD34140, Raul Klang CD RK 3404, Civil Classics CDCOV 91415,