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As the season of turkey and stuffing looms in our minds, there could be no more homey a disc for Christmas than this unusual collection championing the village genius of local composers, whose settings of carols and hymns kept the congregations warm all those years ago—a time when the commercial excesses of today's Christmas were unknown. Modern clichés about community values have nothing in comparison to the humble pride and unity of villagers and townsfolk who gathered to sing settings that were the labour of love and skill on the part of the local composer or choirmaster ... or even excise officer! The foibles and fondness of community life combine here with all manner of interesting tastes in compositional technique, be it idiosyncratic fugal treatment or instrumentation designed to keep busy whatever musicians could be mustered. The organ on the recording dates from 1789 and the old temperament is used.
|Concertos for the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies|
'Stylishly played and naturally recorded … I urge you to share the pleasure I have had from this record' (Gramophone)
'Elegant listening' (American Record Guide)» More
|Dvořák: Symphony No 9|
Sir Colin Davis captures the haunting brilliance of Dvořák's masterpiece and draws a truly virtuosic display from the London Symphony Orchestra. This was LSO Live's first recording and immediately defined the label's unique sound.» More
|Mendelssohn & Schumann: Piano Trios|
'I'm sure no-one would have been happier to find two such engaging performances side by side than the two ladies themselves' (Gramophone)
'A valuable, mind-broadening record' (The Tablet)» More
The Levin edition of Mozart's compelling Requiem performed in thrilling splendour by Mackerras and the SCO.» More
|The Concerto in Europe|
'Well worth hearing. "Background" music of the finest variety.' (Classic CD)» More
Few country churches in the eighteenth century had organs, so early psalmody groups sang unaccompanied, often using a lively and idiosyncratic repertory of fuguing tunes, in which homophonic and contrapuntal sections alternate. Many provincial composers such as Joseph Key, an excise officer from Nuneaton, and Joseph Stephenson, clerk of the Unitarian Chapel in Poole for forty-five years, provided music specifically for such groups. Stephenson’s fuguing tunes were particularly popular with rural singers and remained in the repertory well into the nineteenth century; his folk-like setting of ‘Arise and hail the sacred day’ may have been the one referred to by Thomas Hardy in Under the Greenwood Tree, as it is included in a manuscript book owned by Hardy’s grandfather.
Later in the eighteenth century small groups of string and wind instruments began to be used to support country choirs, and composers such as Joseph Key wrote instrumental passages or ‘symphonies’ to be played at the beginning of a piece, and between the verses of psalms and hymns or between the sections of anthems. Unfortunately, there is no surviving symphony for ‘Come celebrate th’ auspicious morn’; the one used on this recording was composed by Peter Holman in the style of those that survive elsewhere in Key’s output. ‘Come celebrate th’ auspicious morn’ uses a characteristic pattern in which a duple-time verse for solo voice and bass is contrasted with a triple-time choral refrain.
Towards the end of the eighteenth century some composers began to specify particular instruments, and to use them in imaginative ways. A good example is ‘In Bethlem fields’ by the Andover composer Thomas Tremain, scored for soloists, chorus, two clarinets and two bassoons. In the charming opening duet the instruments provide a warbling accompaniment in the galant style, while in the following chorus the clarinets surround the choir with virtuoso runs in thirds, perhaps portraying the flight of angels. The setting of ‘Angels from the realms of glory’ arranged by Thomas Williams of Llanidloes also uses a wind band accompaniment, though the music comes from a very different milieu: it is an adaptation of the quartet ‘Ah perche di quell ingrato’ from Stephen Storace’s Italian opera La cameriera astuta, first performed in London in March 1788. The piece, scored for pairs of flutes, clarinets, oboes, horns and bassoons, was re-used in 1790 in Storace’s English opera No Song, no Supper and was published in full score – which is presumably how Thomas Williams encountered it. Williams contributed greatly to the development of Welsh choral singing during the nineteenth century, and popularised music by Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and others.
There is evidence that provincial choirs were sometimes accompanied by wind bands drawn from local militias. We have imagined such an occasion for the performance of two pieces: the stirring tune ‘Nativity’ by the Canterbury bookseller William Marsh, and the delightful setting of ‘Hark! What mean those holy voices?’. The latter sounds as if it is an early nineteenth-century arrangement of a passage from the slow movement of a Classical symphony, though we have been unable to identify the model or find a source earlier than the late nineteenth century. The anthem ‘The people that walked in darkness’ by John Hill of Rugby has obbligato instrumental parts, but no particular instruments are specified; we have allocated them to strings and C clarinets with bassoon. It is to Hill’s credit that he could set a familiar Handelian text without quoting directly from Messiah. Like many of the more accomplished psalmody composers, Hill was clearly aware of the English cathedral tradition: the duet ‘Of the increase of his government’ is a fine essay in the style of Purcell’s followers, such as John Weldon and William Croft.
Early psalmody composers were usually artisans such as shoemakers or tailors, though some became so successful that they became full-time musicians. For instance, William Matthews of Nottingham, choir master of St Mary’s, Nottingham, started out as a stocking-maker. His ‘How beauteous are their feet’ is richly scored for strings, flutes, clarinets and B flat trumpet and consists of a solo in pastorale style and a Haydnesque choral refrain. The anthem by John Fawcett represents the moment when psalmody began to merge with, and be replaced by, the Victorian choral society repertory. Fawcett was originally a Kendal shoemaker, and was self-taught as a musician. His early works belong to the north of England psalmody tradition, but he gradually became more assured and ambitious as, presumably, he came into contact with the choral works of Handel and Haydn. By the time he wrote ‘Strike! Seraphs, strike your harps of gold’ in about 1840 he had moved to Bolton, had turned to music full time, and was directing the Bolton Philharmonic Society; the work is written for soloists, choir and full Classical orchestra.
The setting of Adeste Fideles or ‘O come, all ye faithful’ by Vincent Novello is laid out for similar forces, but comes from a very different tradition. The tune comes from eighteenth-century English Catholic circles; Novello was one of the most important English Catholic musicians of the early nineteenth century – he was the son of an immigrant Italian pastry-cook – and was mainly responsible for introducing the church music of Haydn and Mozart to England. His setting is unusual in that each section repeat and each verse is set to different music, so that it is in effect a set of continuous choral and orchestral variations.
Several of the pieces on this CD come from the repertory of urban rather than rural churches, in which the organ was the normal accompaniment. In two pieces the choir leads the singing of a congregation (drawn largely from choirs in the Colchester area), and the organist ‘gives out’ (plays over) the tune and plays interludes between the verses, giving everyone time to recover their breath and reflect on the words. For the original version of ‘Christians, awake’ by John Wainwright, organist of Manchester Collegiate Church, we have used thematically unrelated interludes by the London organist Starling Goodwin. Unlike the version normally used today, the piece is not in four-part harmony but is mostly a duet with continuo; the choir and the congregation are restricted to the last line of each verse. The hymn ‘Helmsley’ has a complicated history. The tune seems originally to have been a dance added to Thomas Arne’s opera Thomas and Sally of 1760, and was apparently first altered to fit the words ‘Lo! He comes with clouds descending’ by Thomas Olivers, a follower of the Wesleys; it was adapted to its present form by the Reverend Martin Madan, chaplain of the Lock Hospital in London. We have chosen a fine three-part arrangement by Edward Miller, organist of Doncaster parish church, and have added organ interludes by Samuel Wesley, two of which were written specifically for the hymn.
The origin of ‘Joy to the world’ or ‘Comfort’ is a mystery. It is often attributed to Handel, presumably because of the slight resemblance to ‘Comfort ye’ from Messiah, though the opening is also similar to the beginning of an oboe concerto by Giuseppe Sammartini, published in 1752. The arrangement by Charles Rider of Manchester sets the second half of the tune in counterpoint, suggesting that the piece was originally a simple fuguing tune. We have yet to discover who wrote the Handelian setting of ‘Light of those whose dreary dwelling’, arranged by Thomas Butts, an associate of John Wesley. Both this and the charming setting of ‘Hosanna to King David’s son’ by Richard Taylor of Chester, a painter, music-seller and religious and political dissenter, are performed one-to-a-part with organ continuo, reflecting the domestic use of the psalmody repertory. The rather Purcellian trio ‘Angelic hymns thy natal day’ comes from Benjamin Cooke’s Ode for Christmas, first performed by the Academy of Ancient Music in 1763. Much of the effect of the piece come from its imaginative scoring, with a tenor rather than a bass at the bottom of the vocal ensemble, and pairs of flutes and muted violins. The London organist Thomas Adams was a prominent English exponent of J S Bach, and in his variations on ‘Adeste Fideles’ he combined a Mozartian melodic and harmonic idiom with Bachian counterpoint, passing the tune successively through all the parts.
Sally Drage & Peter Holman © 2003
Sally Drage & Peter Holman © 2003
|An Englishman Abroad|
'Bursting with irresistable charm and refinement this is a warm and finely blended disc that soothes as well as charms … the sort of recording up ...» More
|Odes on the death of Henry Purcell|
'This disc of inventive and moving music, performed with great affection, demonstrates very clearly what this English Orpheus Series is designed to sh ...
'Recording and presentation are exemplary' (Gramophone)» More
|Four and Twenty Fiddlers|
'It is fascinating to hear for the first time music by Banister and Grabu and Purcell's recently-discovered Staircase Overture' (Gramophone)
'A marvellous introduction to the instrumental world in which Purcell grew up' (Early Music Review)» More
'The fascinating titles do not disappoint. A diverse and entertaining mix, very well presented' (The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs)» More
|Philips: Consort Music|
'This was a record we needed' (Gramophone)
'An important record both musically and historically' (American Record Guide)» More
'The 76 minutes pass all too quickly for this enthralled listener' (American Record Guide)
'A delightful disc' (The Guardian)» More
|Gibbons & Lupo: Music for Prince Charles|
'A wonderful mixture of the most varied music' (The Good CD Guide)
'The playing of the Parley is all that could be wished' (Fanfare, USA)» More
|Bond: Six Concertos in seven parts|
'Wonderfully attractive' (American Record Guide)
'It is difficult to conceive of more stylish playing or more sympathetic recording… This perfect disc offers frequent unexpected delights' (Hi-Fi News)» More
|O tuneful voice|
'This is a record for every library, and for lovers of song. Recommended' (Fanfare, USA)» More
|Roseingrave: Keyboard Music|
'Excellent and comprehensive introduction to Roseingrave's keyboard [works]… plays all with sure technique, musicianship and evident relish' (Organist ...
'C'est donc un vrai plaisir que découvir de si belles oeuvres' (Répertoire, France)» More
|English 18th-century Violin Sonatas|
‘This attractive disc includes two examples by Italians and one Dutch piece … but the natives do pretty well, and the best and most individual wo ...
‘An attractive collection of English violin music of the period … recording and presentation are first-rate’ (British Music Society Journal)» More
|Jenkins: Late Consort Music|
'The Parley … play superbly well, their sprung, alert performances bringing the music sparklingly alive. This really is life-enhancing stuff whic ...» More
|Dibdin: Ephesian Matron, Brickdust Man & Grenadier|
'Three delightful pocket operas' (The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs)
'An hour of unmitigated pleasure. Another splendid addition to Hyperion's English Orpheus series' (Classic CD)» More
|Blow: Fairest Work of happy Nature|
John Mark Ainsley (tenor), Timothy Roberts (harpsichord/spinet/virginals), Paula Chateauneuf (theorbo)
'Full of interest, rich in its varied pleasures and in the high standard of recording and performance' (Gramophone)» More
|Blow: Awake my lyre|
'Red Byrd's recordings have been consistently superb … and this recording is no exception' (Fanfare, USA)» More
'Stylish, elegant performances … Harington's deliciously beautiful Damon and Clora and Linley's deeply affecting 'Alas' … confirm this encha ...» More
|Philips: Keyboard Music|
'Strongly recommended as a step on the path to discovering one of the outstanding musicians of the late 16th/early 17th century' x (Fanfare, USA)
'The complete restoration of a great composer's name may be beyond the capacity of a single CD, but if anything can do the trick, this one ought to. A ...» More
|The Romantic Music|
'This CD is a revelation. Do explore this well recorded, well presented disc' (British Music Society Journal)» More
|Lampe: Pyramus and Thisbe|
'Congratulations to Peter Holman, Jack Edwards and their helpers for a wonderful entertainment and to Hyperion for recording it' (Early Music Review)
'Another rewarding first recording in a valuable series' (Classic CD)» More
|The String Quartet in Eighteenth-Century England|
'This CD is something of a revelation' (Gramophone)
'Fresh and entertaining' (BBC Music Magazine)» More
|A High-Priz'd Noise|
'A high-priz'd noise indeed, with further insights into our rich heritage, performed with fragrance and deep affection. A fine and distinctive release ...
'This admirable disc could hardly have been made, at any rate to this high standard, even twenty years ago. Many of the exquisite pieces on this CD wi ...» More
|Hark! hark! the lark|
'Performances are uniformly superb and often enhanced by imaginative or comic touches. Full marks to Peter Holman and his team for this delightful ent ...
'The best and most painstaking reconstruction of music from Shakespeare's theatres available on disc' (Sydney Morning Herald)» More
|Musique of Violenze|
'Remarquable élaboré, ce récital convainc surtout par la subtilité dynamique de 'interprétation, par la précision de certains jeux rhythmiques et la v ...» More
|Boyce: Peleus and Thetis & other theatre music|
'A very agreeable disc' (Gramophone)
'Another decisive blow to the old chestnut that only Handel wrote anything worth the candle in 18th-century England' (Classic CD)» More
|Vital Spark of Heav'nly Flame|
'Once again Peter Holman's scholarship offers a fascinating glimpse of a neglected repertoire' (BBC Music Magazine)
'An infectious CD bringing to life a neglected period and its forgotten music. What fun parish music must have been for the likes of Jane Austen, Will ...» More
|The Noble Bass Viol|
'Thoroughly recommended' (Early Music Review)
'What the whole disc profitably explores is the sensuousness and versatilty of a unique instrumental voice. Modern composers ought to start exploiting ...» More
'Delightfully sung by Bott and Cornwell to a joyful accompaniment' (Gramophone)
'Stylish interpretations … elegantly shaped wind playing by The Parley of Instruments … the disc provides valuable insight into early 18th c ...» More
|Haydn and his English Friends|
'A fascinating collection … wonderfully atmospheric' (Gramophone)
'Music both major and relatively elementary, but all of it has charm' (Fanfare, USA)» More
|Orpheus with his lute|
'The Parley of Instruments, Rachel Brown, director Peter Holman and the Hyperion recording team all deserve applause' (Gramophone)
'With the programme arranged by play rather than chronology, creating an alluring stylistic variety within its 100-or-so-year span, and excellent soun ...» More
'Winchester Cathedral Choir is singing wonderfully well these days … one of the richest of all contributions to the excellent English Orpheus Ser ...
'Well worth exploring' (BBC Music Magazine)» More
|Avison: Concerti Grossi|
'A delightful set … Roy Goodman seems to have made an affectionate study of these works and the results are enchanting. If you are a lover of bar ...
'The music is delightful, the performances scintillating, and the sound excellent. Warmly recommended' (Fanfare, USA)» More
|Boyce: Trio Sonatas|
'Yet another treasurable document of England's musical heritage' (Gramophone)
'The works, large and small, have an air of sweet reasonableness. The fugues are warmly greeted but never aggressively attacked; the string tone in th ...» More
In the three years from 1759 Arne had three smash hits, each an original masterpiece that effectively created a new genre. Artaxerxes, the second of these, was the first attempt to set a full-blown opera seria libretto in English. When Hayd ...» More
|Locke: Anthems, Motets and Ceremonial Music|
'Stylishly performed and intelligently directed' (Early Music)
'La interpretación es excelente' (Scherzo, Spain)» More
|Arne: Six Favourite Concertos|
'Should afford plenty of enjoyment. Recommended … buy it!' (Gramophone)
'Delightful music in delightful performances with outstanding sound. Highly recommended' (Fanfare, USA)» More
|Croft: Te Deum & Burial Service|
'This is choral singing of the highest quality' (Choir & Organ)
'The Pauline acoustics are captured to great effect. The notes are helpful and texts are printed. With little competition this will fill a Croft slot ...» More
|Linley: A Lyric Ode on the Fairies, Aerial Beings and Witches of Shakespeare|
'This charming ode shows [Linley] sharing with Mozart something of that barely definable but unmistakable gift of melodic genius. The music is as beau ...
'There are few discs I expect to enjoy half as much in this year's listening. Very enjoyable, unpretentious music; a disc very well worth trying' (Gra ...» More
'14 instances of the most sheerly glorious sound you are likely to come across in years' (Fanfare, USA)
'This is a revelation! This wonderful programme helps to draw him from the limbo of nearly 400 years of near-oblivion… a programme of astonishingly ri ...» More
|Locke: The Broken Consort|
'Authoritative performances of some very important chamber music for strings … there is no doubting [Locke's] mastery and his greatness. This rec ...
'This disc is delicious' (American Record Guide)» More
|Linley: Cantatas & Theatre Music|
'An outstanding disc in a trail-blazing series: highly recommended' (BBC Music Magazine)
'The irresistible music will compel you to acquire this recording' (Early Music Review)» More
|Blow & Draghi: Odes for St Cecilia|
'Peter Holman's flair for drama illuminates the evocative settings of these lesser-known composers. Both conducting and sound quality capture the nuan ...
'As ever, the disc is a revelation … once heard this infectious music is not easily forgotten, which is a tribute to the enthusiasm and convictio ...» More
|Sound the Trumpet|
'Universally full of spirit and charm … both trumpeters are on fine form, sounding effortlessly relaxed and beautifully matched, with an enticing ...
'A thoughtfully planned disc with plenty of variety … expertly directed and stylishly played, this well-filled disc is highly recommended' (BBC M ...» More
'Hyperion's recording is excellent and the booklet, with all texts and good notes, is a model' (Classic CD)
'What a feast is here! Superb, radiant, colourful singing of a perfect selection of Weelkes' music. A finer selection more persuasively sung would be ...» More
|English Classical Violin Concertos|
'Playing of touching beauty in the slow movements and infectious energy elsewhere, supported by a robust and fragrant orchestral accompaniment. Bravo ...
'This disc proves as delightful as it is surprising … a disc of rarities that will give much unexpected pleasure … I heard this CD on its fi ...» More
|Linley: The Song of Moses & Let God arise|
'One of the best finds yet in Hyperion's English Orpheus series' (Gramophone)
'Another indispensable release in the English Orpheus series. The adventurous will find their curiosity amply rewarded' (Classic CD)» More
|While shepherds watched|
A Christmas record with a difference! This jolly disc revives the little-known tradition of ‘gallery music’, suppressed by the Oxford Movement in early Victorian times because it was too cheerful. All fifteen works vitally capture the enthusiasm of a ...» More
|English 18th-century Keyboard Concertos|
'A delightful project' (The Times)
'Los amantes de le buena música encontraran en él elementos de indudable atractivo que sería una lástima dejar escapar' (CD Compact, Spain)» More
|Stanley: Six Concertos in seven parts|
'The players are technically superb, but also play with a grace and lightness which are wholly uplifting' (BBC Music Magazine Top 1000 CDs Guide)
'An attractive record' (Gramophone)» More