Henry's Music: Motets from a Royal Choirbook

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - James Manheim
It's well known that King Henry VIII was a composer, but he's generally represented by one or two pieces on collections of English Renaissance music rather than being treated as the central figure in a flourishing artistic culture. Exactly how much music he wrote is a matter of dispute, but this disc by the English vocal group Alamire and wind consort QuintEssential, with harpist Andrew Lawrence-King, presents a generous sampling of nine vocal and instrumental pieces although "Pastime with Good Company," recorded by musicians as recent as Jethro Tull, is omitted, along with music written for Henry by other composers. These are perhaps the most interesting and unusual, ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - James Manheim
It's well known that King Henry VIII was a composer, but he's generally represented by one or two pieces on collections of English Renaissance music rather than being treated as the central figure in a flourishing artistic culture. Exactly how much music he wrote is a matter of dispute, but this disc by the English vocal group Alamire and wind consort QuintEssential, with harpist Andrew Lawrence-King, presents a generous sampling of nine vocal and instrumental pieces although "Pastime with Good Company," recorded by musicians as recent as Jethro Tull, is omitted, along with music written for Henry by other composers. These are perhaps the most interesting and unusual, especially the group of six "Motets from a Royal Choirbook" tracks 7-12. Four of these are the product of a composer known only as Sampson, and, more curiously still, thought to be German. Check out the canonic "Salve radix" track 7, whose lovely score is reproduced on the back of the booklet; the spiral shape of the score is replicated in the piece's harmonic motion. The setting, likewise by the elusive Sampson, of the "Quam pulcra es" text from the Song of Songs, is termed by director and annotator David Skinner "with its erotic ovetones . . . an odd inclusion in this royal gift" the choirbook was a gift to Henry and Catherine of Aragon, although one can think of plenty of reasons Henry and his outsized personality might have inspired such a decision. The works by Henry himself might be described as competent but simple; the program as a whole defines a nice contrast between imposing sacred pieces and a secular sphere in which the king could musically hold his own. The performances of the 12-voice mixed-gender adult choir Alamire named for the compiler of the motet book are among the best available in this repertory; the group conveys the quality of free fantasy, counterbalanced by complex abstraction, in the music and avoids the ponderousness that often turns large works like Fayrfax's concluding "Lauda vivi alpha et o" into undifferentiated blobs. All in all, a fine addition to English Renaissance collections.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/28/2009
  • Label: Obsidian
  • UPC: 658592070521
  • Catalog Number: 705
  • Sales rank: 217,267

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Christe Jesu, pastor bone, antiphon for 5 voices (lacks tenor part) - John Taverner & Andrew Lawrence-King (2:51)
  2. 2 King's Pavan - Anonymous & Andrew Lawrence-King (1:33)
  3. 3 England be glad - Andrew Lawrence-King & Anonymous, English (2:06)
  4. 4 Consort No. 12 for instrumental ensemble - Henry VIII, King of England & Andrew Lawrence-King (1:02)
  5. 5 Madame d'amours - Henry VIII, King of England & Anonymous, English (3:47)
  6. 6 Taunder Naken for diverse instruments - Henry VIII, King of England & Andrew Lawrence-King (2:19)
  7. 7 Salve radix - Richard Sampson & Andrew Lawrence-King (2:20)
  8. 8 Psallite felices - Richard Sampson & Andrew Lawrence-King (10:02)
  9. 9 Sub tuum presidium - Andrew Lawrence-King & Benedictus de Optitiis (3:37)
  10. 10 Quam pulcra est - Richard Sampson & Andrew Lawrence-King (4:27)
  11. 11 Hec est preclarum - Anonymous & Andrew Lawrence-King (2:53)
  12. 12 Beati omnes - Jacotin & Andrew Lawrence-King (5:33)
  13. 13 Consort No. 13 for instrumental ensemble - Henry VIII, King of England & Andrew Lawrence-King (0:52)
  14. 14 O my heart is sore - Henry VIII, King of England & Andrew Lawrence-King (1:03)
  15. 15 Hélas madame - Henry VIII, King of England & Andrew Lawrence-King (1:16)
  16. 16 Though some saith - Henry VIII, King of England & Andrew Lawrence-King (3:37)
  17. 17 Nil majus superi vident - Anonymous & Andrew Lawrence-King (3:34)
  18. 18 Consort No. 8 for instrumental ensemble - Henry VIII, King of England & Andrew Lawrence-King (1:14)
  19. 19 Adieu madame - Henry VIII, King of England & Andrew Lawrence-King (4:29)
  20. 20 En vray amoure, for 4 voices - Henry VIII, King of England & Andrew Lawrence-King (1:13)
  21. 21 Lauda Vivi Alpha Et O - Robert Fayrfax & Andrew Lawrence-King (16:28)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Alamire Primary Artist
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