Friday, 27 September 2013

28 & 29 September

Musicke In The Ayre:  Crafted Consonances

A timely repeat for our programme show-casing the talents of the early-music group, Musicke in the Ayre, in advance of their concert, Time Stands Still, at the Holburne Museum, Bath, on 22 October, at 13:10

Today’s Classical Break consists mostly of a sequence of recordings from a concert – Crafted Consonances - held in the Augustan gallery of the Holburne Museum.  This very enjoyable concert of early music was given on Sunday, February the 24th, as part of a series, Painted Pomp’,  by Helen Atkinson and Din Ghani, of the group, Musicke In The Ayre.  The music consisted mostly of lute- or viol-accompanied song by Elizabethan-born Jacobean composers.

In the deepened, almost animated presence of paintings by artists such as Gainsborough, Kauffmann, Zoffany, Ramsay  and others, one heard something of the readily communicable soul of music of a time earlier than the Age of Reason and balance.  One stepped further back still, to  a legendary time of heroic warriors, courtiers, poets and musicians; of circles of influence, conspiracy and patronage, when religion, conscience and philosophy ran in complex strata best kept hidden from spies and enemies; a time of fate and pastoral dreams written by urban politicians, personal fortunes worthy of Shakespeare’s or Jonson’s tragedies, comedies and romances,  inward and outward exploration, the passing of Gloriana and accession of the Stuart King James The First.

Music and poetry (unlike in the 18th Century) fell into in the most natural and expressive relationship of moods of the moment.  Ancient voices sang of love and grief, declarations and mortality, in thrall to harmony; applause might have come from Bath’s Georgian and Regency heyday:  but at an historical hour, both voices – one voice, Helen Atkinson’s, that is – and applause were actually of our 21st Century.  Music has always been in the air – and the soul of man and of his forebears and descendants will always be most potently expressed by it.  Its tremulous vibrations, in songs of life and the collective yet refined spirit, awake and converse with the world – the catgut and vocal cords are frail with distance and yet not only speak but reply to our silence;  there are no questions for us to answer.  Here are 40 minutes of this illumination:  Musick In The Ayre’s concert, Crafted Consonances.  Our thanks go to the performers, Helen Atkinson and Din Ghani, whose talents are here properly enshrined, but are also aired frequently and to the same effect in York, Oxford and London.




A poem written by Mike Burrows from several rows back, on the day! -

At Music In The Ayre – A Crafted Consonance
          To Helen Atkinson and Din Ghani

The voice and lutes! – and let their sober song
Be of an unkindness and barren sorrow

Of my durance in this most cruel wrong
That will not hear unless I do borrow

Such voices of harmony that have sprung
From the hearts of her preferred men:  but still,

Delights freed from throats and frets made true strungTo Musicke In The Ayre - Crafted Consonances
Prove, man or instrument, we bear goodwill.

Such love as this let her so hear and find
Aright our truth of sincere expression –

And let us not languish, as to her mind
And heart our tones reach, and supercession

Comes not late, indeed, but when that it should,
As, moved, she meets our lowered state with all good.

(The Musician’s, or My Lord Essex’s, Fond Complaint -  The voice and lutes! and let their sober songBe of an unkindness and barren so wW    owWritten at the Holburne Museum, Sunday 24th of FebruaryOf my durance in this most cruel wrong  That will not hear unless I do borrow2013)

That was Crafted Consonances - a concert given as part of the Season devoted to Jacobean music, Painted Pomp, held at the Holburne Museum, Bath,  earlier this year.  The performers were Helen Atkinson and Din Ghani, two members of the early music group, Musicke In The Ayre.

Now, here are Edmund Rubbra’s Improvizations On Virginal Pieces By Giles Farnaby, For Orchestra, Op50.  These were written to offset costs of publishing Rubbra’s First Symphony!  They form a work that is, in fact, far from being a pot-boiler.  Farnaby (1560-1640), was born in Truro and died in London.  He composed, to a large extent, pieces for keyboard instruments – for performance in the stately home or town-house! – and, in contrast to this preoccupation - madrigals.  Much of his output is now held in the US.  Rubbra, a symphonist of the highest seriousness, and greatly inspired by the liturgical music  and polyphony of the Mediaeval and Renaissance Ages,  expanded Farnaby’s miniatures concinnately – that is, in a style appropriate to the originals – and orchestrated them with great care; his technique creating a palette of great beauty; these affectionate part-recompositions are deeply expressive, their moods ranging from the playful and capricious, to the wistful and grave.The scoring favours high to alto woodwind and the middle register of the string section (the violas lend dignity and an austere quality to more solemn measures).  The brass are light and mildly riotous or more sombre.

 Rubbra permitted himself the greatest freedom in treating the penultimate and last pieces, Loth to Depart and Tell me, Daphne, as these were popular songs arranged by Farnaby, rather than original works.  The names of the  movements are:  Farnaby’s Conceit,His Dreame, His Humour, Loth To depart, Tell me, Daphne.

This was Classical Break, and I’m Rupert Kirkham.  Today’s number was researched by Mike Burrows, and we wish to thank Helen Atkinson and Din Ghani of Musicke In The Ayre for the beautiful performance-material from their concert at the Holburne Museum earlier this year, which formed the major part of our programme.  We hope you enjoyed it and will join us again soon.  Goodbye!


Improvisations On Virginal Pieces by Giles Farnaby, Op 50, Rubbra