Thursday 19 March 2015

Coronation Music for Charles II

Coronation of Charles II
Music for the Coronation of Charles II; Oltremontano, Psallentes, Wim Becu; Accent
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on Feb 6 2015
Star rating: 4.0

Imaginative reconstruction of music for the whole of the Coronation of Charles II from processions, to service and banquet.

This latest disc (on the Accent label) from the Belgian cornett and sackbut ensemble Oltremontano, directed by Wim Becu, explores the music written for the coronation of Charles II. Though the group is joined by the choir Psallentes for three items, the disc is very much wind ensemble based and encompasses the music written for Charles's ceremonial entry to London, procession, coronation ceremony and the coronation banquet with music by Robert Parsons, Marin Mersenne, Matthew Locke, Girolamo Fantini, William Child, William Byrd, Pelham Humfrey, Augustine Bassano, William Lawes, John Adson.

Charles' coronation took place a year after his Restoration in 1660. It probably took the intervening year to organise the grand spectacle (very much based on earlier models), as most things including the Royal Household had to be assembled from scratch including creating new coronation regalia and the training of choirboys. The disc comes with an excellent article by Prof. Dr. Grete Haenen which explains just what we are listening to. Not all the music survives and we do not have record of some, so some of the pieces are putative.

Charles II - coronation procession
Charles II - coronation procession
We start with period trumpet music, by Robert Parsons and Marin Mersenne for Charles' entry, and then Matthew Lock's 5-part things for the cornetts, a seven movement suite written for performance at one of the triumphal arches that Charles passed through on the procession.

For the coronation itself, the choir was that of Westminster Abbey and the Chapel Royal, and they were joined by the Four and Twenty Violins and the Royal Wind Band. This latter group played with the choir, probably as Grete Haenen points out, colla parte because the raw trebles (with only 12 months training under their belts) needed every help.

Coronation of Charles II - Wenceslaus Hollar
Coronation of Charles II - Wenceslaus Hollar
William Child's anthem O Lord, grant the King a long life was sung during the procession from Westminster Palace to Westminster Abbey. And to represent the music in the service we have two works by Pelham Humfrey, The King Shall Rejoice and Te Deum. Though slighter later, Humfrey had trained at the Chapel Royal as a chorister in the early intake and his style corresponds with the taste of the court though these were were written later (Humfrey was 14 in the year of the coronation).

After the coronation came the banquet in Westminster Hall (pre-Queen Victoria, almost more pre-eminent event than the coronation service). The repertoire for this has not survived so we get a representative selection of works from previous generations which were still current. The disc concludes with a suite of music from the pre-war period written by John Adson based on music written for the masques which were an essential part of pre-war court life.

The ten voiced choir, joined by organist Bart Rodyns, acquit themselves well and sing the period music with authentically robust vigour, as well as in highly creditable English. But the balance of the disc is on Oltremontano and the wind playing throughout, in all its various forms, is fine indeed. One slightly curious pieces of atmospherics is that for the outdoor scenes, there are short tracks of voices, street-sounds and horses.

Not every piece on the disc is great music, much was written for functional use. But the various groups really bring the event to life, and by choosing to represent the whole day we get a lovely variety of music.

Coronation music for Charles II

Charles II Enters London [4.26]
Robert Parsons (c1535-1571/72) - The song called trumpets
Marin Mersenne (1588-1648) - L'Entree, A Cheval, Cavalcade & Double Cavalcade, La Retraite

Procession past the triumphal arches [12.58]
Matthew Locke (1621/22-1677) - 5-part things for the cornetts

The coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey [24.00]
Girolamo Fantini (1600-1675) - Entrata Imperiale
William Child (1606-1697) - O Lord, grant the King a long life
William Byrd (c1543-1623) - In Nomine a 5
Pelham Humfrey (1647-1674) - The King shall rejoice
William Byrd (c1543-1623) - Miserere a 4
Pelham Humfrey (1647-1674) - Te Deum

A Royal musical banquet [21.11]
Augustine Bassano (c1526-1604) - Pavana a 5, Galliarda a5, Galiiarda & Coranto a 5
William Lawes (1602-1645) - Fantazia 2 a 6
Augustine Bassano (c1526-1604) - Pavan a 6
Anonymous - Amand a 6
William Byrd - Borning a 5 "The leaves be green"

Masquing Ayres [3.59]
John Adson (c1587-1640) - Courtly Masquing Ayres a 5

Wim Becu (director)
Recorded at Eglise Saint-Jean l'Evangeliste Chaudfontaine, Beaufays, Belgium in July 2014
ACCENT ACC24300 1CD [66.36]

Elsewhere on this blog:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Popular Posts this month