UPDATE: We are now finalising the artwork and printing the CDs. We expect it to be released by 1st June.
Following on from the enjoyment of making my last album (Mesangeau’s Experiments) I’m about to embark on recording a new album of music from the English Golden Age featuring the composers Holborne, Bacheler, A. Ferrabosco, Byrd, Lassus, and a token piece by Dowland. See below for the programme content and notes. The CD will be recorded in York in October 2015.
Short samples (home recording!) from the programme:
If you want a sneak preview, I’ll be performing this programme in the York Early Music Festival 8th July 2015.
To record the album and print CDs I need to raise a total of £2000. The breakdown is simple, it costs about £1000 for both the church hire and my superb recording engineer Joseph Chesshyre (check out his website too). That then leaves £1000 to be split between CD design and production.
The album will be released on my own label Veterum Musica.
If you need any more persuading, here are some reviews from my last album:
“McCartney’s interpretation of this reflective music is stylish and sublime.”
Kate Benessa, LSA
“… the CD is a real pleasure to listen to and Alex McCartney shows he is a very good lutenist which one has a desire to hear more from.” Jean-Luc Bresson, SFL (Translated from the French)
“This is sublime music, played with such feeling by Alex McCartney, a busy soloist and accompanist, who also directs the ensemble, Poeticall Musicke, and makes lutes. We are fortunate to be able to listen to this re-discovered music performed with such care.”
Stephen Page, Lark Reviews
“[McCartney’s] phrasing (an essential part of this ‘tricky’ French lute style) is admirably musical and the playing fluent and easily flowing.”
Martyn Hodgson, Lute News
“The playing is sensitive and musical…” Andrew Benson-Wilson Early Music Review
“Using three suites Alex McCartney gives us a good impression of the refined art of the master.” Pizzicato (Translated from the German)
Fancy – John Dowland (1563-1626)
Pavane – Daniel Bacheler (c.1574-c.1610)
Miserere – Alfonso Ferrabosco (1543-1588)
Pavane – Daniel Bacheler
Monsieur’s Allemande – Daniel Bacheler
Pavane Bray – William Byrd (c.1540-1623) arr.Francis Cutting (c.1550-c.1596)
Pavane, Sedet sola – Anthony Holborne (c1545-1602)
Galliard – Daniel Bacheler
Pavane, Patencia – Anthony Holborne
Susanne un jour – Orlande de Lassus (1532-1594)
Last Will and Testament – Anthony Holborne
Amount Raised: £2080
Perks for supporters:
£5 Your name printed on the CD insert. [5 claimed]
£10 Handwritten thank you card and the above. [5 claimed]
£20 Signed CD and the above. [8 claimed]
£30 A bonus track from the recording with all the amusing outtakes (musical and spoken!) and the above. [2 claimed]
£35 A copy of my previous album ‘Mesangeau’s Experiments’ and the above. [6 claimed]
£40 Two tickets to the launch events in either London, York or Glasgow and the above. – The event includes a short recital of the music recorded, complimentary drinks and a Q&A session. Dates TBC 2016 [3 claimed]
£50 Access to my online lute tutor (normal cost £40 per year) and the above. [6 claimed]
£60 A lute lesson via Skype, or in person (travel costs excluded) and the above. – UK only. [3 claimed]
£75 A bonus track added to your digital copy of the album dedicating that copy to you or a friend and the above. – Only 5 available. [3 claimed]
£500 A private 60 minute recital (excluding travel and accommodation) and the above. – Europe only. [1 claimed]
£1000 To have the whole CD dedicated to you or a friend on the first page of the insert and the above. – Only 1 available.
Tom Emlyn Williams
Katie De La Matter
David John Owen
Inga M Klaucke
After the death of Henry VII music making was increasingly popular in the Tudor court. Elizabeth I was no exception. She ascended to the throne in 1558 and at the height of the Golden Age she employed around seventy musicians. Elizabeth was a keen amateur lute player and this programme showcases the exemplary work of contemporary lute players in and around her court.
John Dowland’s career can perhaps be summarised by the statement ‘Failure at home: time spent aboard’. In the early part of his career he converted to Catholicism whilst working for Henry Cobham, the abassador to France. After he had returned to England in 1583, whilst under the employment of Henry Noel, he was passed over several times when lutenist positions became available in Elizabeth I’s court. At the time, the country was officially Protestant; Church of England, however Elizabeth (seeking to passify the majority of her subjects) was sypathetic to Catholics but, unfortunately for Dowland, may not have wanted them employed in her court.
Frustrated in England, Dowland accepted a lucrative post as lutenist to Christian IV of Denmark in 1598; where he remained until 1606. During his time in Demark, Dowland often went on extended periods of leave to England to oversee the publishing of his works and perhaps also to make appearances: still in hope of court employment.
Finally in 1612 Dowland was awarded an English Royal Lutenist’s post, in the long-dormant place of Richard Pike. By this time Elizabeth I had died and was succeeded in 1603 by James I: the last of the Tudor monarchs.
Daniel Bacheler was apprenticed at the age of seven to his uncle Thomas Cardell; the lutenist and dancing master at Elizabeth Ist’s court. After having what must have been an excellent start in life, he proceeded to work for the ill fated Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex between 1594-99. In 1603 he became a Lutenist and Groome of her Majestie’s Privie Chamber. Although now classed as a ‘lesser-known’ composer from the Golden Age, Batcheler was possibly the most sucessful lutenist in England in his own lifetime. The reasons for his current lack of popularity are due to his compositions being complex and difficult to play; often requiring the now rarer larger renaissance lutes such as instruments with nine or ten courses. Bacheler’s long span of compositional activity resulted in an output that is stylistically diverse. The musical forms found throughout his works show he lived through the change in taste between the Elizabethan and Jacobean courts. They include: pavans, galliards, almains, and sets of variations, one fantasia, courantes, and six preludes.
Alfonso Ferrabosco is probably most famous, not for his compositions for lute, but for introducing the madrigal to England. Born in Bologna, he visited England in 1562 and immediately found employment with Elizabeth I. During his time working in the English court he made many trips to Italy; this in addition to being unusually highly paid for a musician, caused many to think he was a spy.
Ferrabosco’s madrigal style was consided skillful by his English peers, but looking back on it now, he largely ignored the progressive style developing in Italy that featured expressive chromaticism and word-painting.
In 1578 Ferrabosco left England never to return (despite regular requests from Elizabeth); in 1588 he died in Bologna.
Francis Cutting is one of the earliest English lute composers that we are aware of today. Little is known of his early life and musical training. At some point in his career he was employed as a musician for the Howard family which included the so termed ‘Catholic martyr’ Philip Howard, Earl of Arundel.
Cutting had an impressive ten children, one of whom, his son Thomas became a distinguished lutenist.
Cuttings compositions are a balanced display of the English lute style during the 1580s and 1590s. He composed no fancys or ground basses and can be more easily recognised by his contrapuntally-perfect pavans, galliards and almains. Several of his surviving works appear in William Barley’s ‘A New Booke of Tabliture (1596)’.
Contrary to expectations Anthony Holborne did not have an appointment as a musician at Elizabeth I’s court. He most likely held a position such as ‘Gentleman Usher to Queen Elizabeth’ by the time his book ‘The Cittharn School’ was published; in it he is styled ‘Gentleman and servant to her most excellent Majestie’. In the final years of his life, 1599-1602, he also worked for Robert Cecil, the 1st Earl of Salisbury. Unlike some musicians of the time he was well educated and could versify and write in Latin; suggestive of training at court, one of the inns, or university. He was a significant conposer of cittern and bandora music as well as lute music.
Orlande de Lassus was a world famous Franco-Flemish composer. He started his career by studying in Naples in the early 1550s, working as both a singer and composer for Costantino Castroto. He next moved to Rome, working under Cosimo I de’Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. At the tender age of twenty-one he was appointed the ‘maestro di cappella’ of the Basilica of Saint John Lateran, the ecumenical mother church of Rome.
In 1556 he had joined the court of Albrect V, Duke of Bavaria in Munich, becoming the ‘maestro di cappella’ by 1563. He would live in Munich for the rest of his life.
By the 1560s Lassus was famous. Many leaders in Europe paid tribute to him; Emperor Maximillian II conferred nobility upon him (rare for a composer), Pope Gregory XIII knighted him and Charles IX (King of France) invited him to visit, twice.
Lassus died in Munich in 1594, the same day that his employer decided to dismiss him for economic reasons. He never saw the letter.
Lassus did not write music specifically for the lute as far as we know but the piece in this programme can be found in the Matthew Holmes Manuscripts I: Cambridge University Library MS Dd.2.11 and is a contemporary arrangement.