Music for Philip of Spain and his four wives

£12.00

The debut disc of world-renowned early-music ensemble Charivari Agréable on Signum Records.

Music for Philip of Spain and His Four Wives is complementary to SIGCD004 and presents secular music associated with Philip II from the four European countries of his wives – Portugal, England, Austria and France.

SKU: SIGCD006

What people are saying

"Bravo!"
Gramophone
 
"Highly recommended"
Early Music Review
 
"Exquisite performances … a highly intelligent programme"

Early Music Today 

 Charivari Agréable

Susanne Heinrich – Tenor and Bass Viols
Kah-Ming Ng – Keyboards
Lynda Sayce – Vihuela, Lutes and Flutes

with

Rodrigo del Pozo – Tenor & Guitar
Sarah Groser – Bass Viol
Reiko Ichise – Bass Viol
Nicki Kennedy – Soprano 

Release date:2nd Nov 1998
Order code:SIGCD006
Barcode: 635212000625

Music Web

This was Charivari Agreable’s first recording for Signum. The hook on which this recital of renaissance instrumental music and songs hangs is the music associated with the four wives of King Philip II of Spain (1527-1593). This gives the ensemble an opportunity to offer us a wide variety of music tenuously linked together.

King Philip’s wives were Mary of Portugal in 1543, Mary Tudor 1554, Isabella of France in 1559 and Elizabeth of Valois. The only French composer represented is Eustache du Caurroy (1549-1609) with his three-part fantasias on a delightful French melody that immediately follows it, “Une jeune fillette’. There are four English pieces including one by Alfonso Ferrabosco who was a Spanish exile anyway, and the rest is Spanish music although Diego Pisador, who is represented by two microscopic songs, had Portuguese connections.

On balance I have to say that the King’s four wives are not equally represented, however let us put that to one side. The composers represented include Diego Ortiz (1510-1570) a great instrumental composer and a writer of a treatise on division playing, Antonio de Cabezon (1510-1566) the great blind organist and composer and his son Antonio de Cabezon who gathered together all of his late father’s music into a collection. Also, Luis Milan (c1500-1561) the famous composer and vihuela player of his day. No doubt all were known to the King although the booklet does not tell us directly if any worked at court. Milan surely did.

These instrumental pieces (nineteen tracks) are interspersed with ten song settings, (texts and translations are provided) sung by the clear voiced Nicki Kennedy, soprano and the honey-toned Rodrigo del Fozo, tenor who also plays renaissance guitar. As indicated, the songs and instrumental variants often sit next to each other. The players use modern copies of ancient instruments listed in the booklet. Susanne Heinrich plays a lyra viol and a six string bass viol. Kah-Ming Ng is a harpsichordist and plays the chamber organ. Lynda Sayce plays seven instruments including various lutes. Sarah Groser plays a bass viol and Reiko Ichise a bass viol. These instruments are generally well balanced and very clearly recorded.

Some of the pieces have been arranged for several of these combinations of instruments. The three pieces from the ‘Lautenbuch de Octavianus Fugger‘ have been arranged by Susanne Heinrich and Lynda Sayce for viols, also Kah-Ming Ng has arranged, amongst other things, the beautiful harpsichord setting by Hernando de Cabezon of Lassus’s Susane ung jur'(sic) for viols with renaissance flute and harpsichord.

The booklet notes by Lynda Sayce are well written and of interest, but disappointingly, say little about the composers or about the wives of Philip. She does comment however on improvisation in 16th Century Spain and describes as “extraordinary” Valderrabano‘s “Descante sobre un punto’ which is a written out set of improvisations over a drone. This is indeed “the other end of the scale” from the meticulously composed keyboard variations of Cabezon senior.

In fairness this repertoire has been chewed over by various musicians in the last few years – for example, none better then Jordi Savall on say his ‘El Cancionero de Medinaceli’ (Astree Auvidis E8764). Here the emphasis is on the instrumental adaptation of vocal and keyboard works. This, coupled with some delightful and beautiful musicianship, make this a worthwhile CD to add to your collection.

Gary Higginson

There is a growing trend among thinking musicians to treat music of the past more creatively. I find myself increasingly reviewing recordings of arrangements of music adapted and interpreted in the ways musicians of the day would have taken for granted, but requiring of musicians today a greater self-confidence based on a greater knowledge of the historical and social contexts for the music than ever before. This represents for me a new and very exciting phase of the early music revival, one that enriches the existing repertory and can bring us ever closer to the spirit of the original music.

Charivari Agreable, founded by the keyboard player Kah-Ming Ng in 1993, has produced here an imaginative and polished recording of sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century music that effectively conjures up the musical life and times of the court of Philip II of Spain. Each of the three regular members of the ensemble has contributed tasteful and plausible arrangements of works, relying to a great extent on Susanne Heinrich’s deeply evocative viol playing and Lynda Sayce’s stylish and accomplished vihuela accompaniments.

The selections include solos for Ng, Heinrich and Sayce, arrangements of popular songs (listeners will recognise “Une jeune fillette” in tracks 27 and 28, popularised by the film Tous les matins du monde) and instrumental diferencias (variations). Highlights for me include Valderrabano’s Discantar sobre un punto (with plucked bass viol and vihuela), Henestrosa’s Diferencias sobre Guardame las Vacas (played on a wonderfully chuffy organ with vihuela), Milan’s songs (beautifully sung by Rodrigo del Pozo and Nicki Kennedy), Hume’s A soldier’s resolution (the echoing viols brilliantly played and recorded) and Ferrabosco’s Spanish Pavan (with bass viol and lute). Bravo!

Gramophone

Gramophone, May 2009

There is a growing trend among thinking musicians to treat music of the past more creatively. I find myself increasingly reviewing recordings of arrangements of music adapted and interpreted in the way musicians of the day would have taken for granted, but requiring of musicians today a greater self-confidence based on a greater knowledge of the historical and social contexts for the music than ever before. This represents for me a new and very exciting phase of the early music revival, one that enriches the existing repertory and can bring us ever closer to the spirit of the original music.

Charivari Agreable, founded by the keyboard player Kah-Ming Ng in 1993, has produced here an imaginative and polished recording of sixteenth-and early seventeenth-century music that effectively conjures up the musical life and times of the court of Philip II of Spain. Each of the three regular members of the ensemble has contributed tasteful and plausible arrangements of works, relying to a great extent on Susanne Heinrich’s deeply evocative viol playing and Lynda Sayce’s stylish and accomplished vihuela accompaniments.

The selections include solos for Ng, Heinrich and Sayce, arrangements of popular songs (listeners will recognize ‘Une jeune fillette’ in tracks 27 and 28, popularized by the film Tous les matins du monde) and instrumental diferencias (variations). Highlights for me include Valderbano’s Discantar sobre un punto (with plucked bass viol and vihuela), Henestrosa’s Diferencias sobre Guardame las Vacas (played on a wonderfully chuffy organ with vihuela), Milan’s songs (beautifully sung by Rodrigo del Poso and Nicki Kennedy), Hume’s A soldier’s resolution (the echoing viols brilliantly played and recorded) and Ferrabosco’s Spanish Pavan (with bass viol and lute). Bravo!

JAS

Early Music Review, March 1999

Highly recommended. Over 70 minutes, for your money, of Spanish music of the mid to late 16th-century, plus some French and English to show the international tastes of the Hapsburg Court, with instrumental fantasias and divisions, laced with songs. There is some imaginative tinkering – viol consorts out of songs or organ pieces, dialogues conjured out of Ortiz and Hume, one of Ortiz’s ‘La Spagna’ recercadas is plucked, with chords, by solo viol, and the whole ensemble jam a lovely folksy version of ‘Une jeune fillette’ the arrangements work well because they use appropriate instruments and play with great insight. The viols have a beautiful mellow, reedy tone, not too heavy at the bass end. The singing is marvellous. Del Pozo has a very high tenor, with the easiest of top As, and a richness of tone which never gets heavy. Nicki Kennedy’s soprano is very focused and bell-like, her ornamentation neatly done. Cabezon, father and son, are played on an organ whose crystal tone matches the playing.

Early Music Today

…exquisite performances of music (some imaginatively arranged) from Philip II’s court at the Escorial, along with several contemporary Spanish-influenced English and French works. The instrumental pieces are particularly successful; Caurroy’s ‘Fanatsias sur jeune fillette’ and Cabezon’s version of ‘Doulce memoire’ are among the highlights of a highly intelligent programme.

The Oxford Times Weekend

In his portraits, Philip II of Spain (1527-98) appears as a dour Hapsburg monarch, dressed all in black. Yet he presided over the second half of Spain’s golden age including an artistic renaissance that led to Cervantes in literature, El Greco and Velasquez in painting.

In music too, late 16th-century Spain was rich and cosmopolitan, taking in influences from across the Hapsburg Empire. In Philip of Spain (Signum SIGCD006) the equally cosmopolitan, Oxford-based consort Charivari Agreable have put together a wide-ranging programme of music from that era to mark the 400th anniversary of the king’s death.

Playing an astonishing assortment of instruments, including the vihuela or Spanish lute, they offer a range of short pieces that, although immediately unfamiliar, will make connections with anyone used to John Dowland’s contemporaneous work.

The playing is exquisite, the recording immaculate, the variety fascinating. Philip had an English connection, with an inauspicious marriage to Mary I and the launch of the hapless Armada, and the consort manage to include a couple of home-grown pieces, including the virtuosic echo-viol gem A Soldiers Resolution by Tobias Hume.

  1. Diego Ortiz: Recercada Ottava – – 1.41
  2. Luis Mil?n: Falai, mi?a amor – – 1.27
  3. Anonymous: Vuestros ojos – – 1.28
  4. Luis Mil?n: Fantasia – – 2.55
  5. Luis Mil?n: Al amor quiero vencer – – 1.13
  6. Diego Pisador: Sempre me fingo – – 0.43
  7. Diego Pisador: Madonna mia fa – – 0.49
  8. Captain Tobias Hume: A Soldiers Resolution – – 3.57
  9. Thomas Robinson: Spanish Pavan – – 2.44
  10. Alfonso Ferrabosco: Spanish Pavinge – – 4.21
  11. Thomas Morley: Ayre – – 2.42
  12. Eustache du Caurroy: Fantasies sur Une jeune fillette – – 2.36
  13. Traditional: Une jeune fillette – – 3.37
  14. Luis Mil?n: Sospirastes Baldovinos – – 4.27
  15. Hernando de Cabez?n: Susane un jur – – 4.14
  16. Juan V?squez: Gracias al cielo doy – – 3.10
  17. Diego Ortiz: Recercada Quarta – – 1.28
  18. Enr?quez de Valderr?bano: Descante sobre un punto – – 2.58
  19. Diego Ortiz: Recercada Primera – – 1.45
  20. Luis Venegas de Henestrosa: Diferencias sobre Guardame las vacas – – 1.39
  21. Hernando de Cabez?n: Ave maristela – – 2.01
  22. from ‘Lautenbuch des Octavianus Fugger II’: Aria – – 0.45
  23. from ‘Lautenbuch des Octavianus Fugger II’: Aria – – 2.01
  24. from ‘Lautenbuch des Octavianus Fugger II’: O bella – – 3.12
  25. Hernando de Cabez?n: Doulce memoire – – 3.58
  26. Antonio de Cabez?n: Diferencias sobre canto del Cavallero – – 3.12
  27. Luis Mil?n: Con pavor record? el moro – – 2.45
  28. Antonio de Cabez?n: Diferencias sobre las vacas – – 3.36
  29. Diego Ortiz: Recercada Segunda – – 2.27