Friday 30 October 2015

Music for Wimpole Hall - Eboracum Baroque performs Thomas Tudway

Thomas Tudway - Music for Wimpole Hall - Eboracum Baroque
Music for Wimpole Hall - Thomas Tudway, James Hawkins; Eboracum Baroque
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on Oct 23 2015
Star rating: 4.0

Music for the chapel at Wimpole Hall, recorded in situ by this young baroque ensemble

Wimpole Hall is one of the largest houses in Cambridgeshire. It has something of a chequered history, passing through various hands due to lack of money or lack of an heir and was given to the National Trust by Elsie Bambridge (Rudyard Kipling's daughter). In the early 18th century it was in the hands of the bibliophile, collector and patron of the arts, Lord Harley who employed the composer Thomas Tudway to create volumes of English church music spanning the early 1600's to the 1720's. Tudway included his own music in the volumes as well as that of his contemporaries, and when the newly built Wimpole chapel was opened in 1721 Tudway composed a Te Deum and Jubilate for the service (presumably Matins).

On this disc Eboracum Baroque, directed by Chris Parsons, have recorded Tudway's Te Deum and Jubilate along with other music by Tudway, James Hawkins and James Paisible, in the venue for which much of it was written, Wimpole Hall chapel.

Chapel at Wimpole Hall
The Chapel at Wimpole Hall
Eboracum Baroque is a small vocal and period instrument ensemble (9 singers, 10 instrumentalists) originally formed at York University in 2012. Here they provide a vocal ensemble approach to Thomas Tudway's essentially verse-anthem style piece. Tudway, who as born around 1650, was a chorister in the Chapel Royal and became organist at King's College, Cambridge. He may have been involved in the building of the chapel as Sir James Thornhill drew a gathering of Lord Harley's artistic friends with Tudway playing the harpsichord.

The disc opens with Thomas Tudway's Jubilate, a relatively small scale piece with a rather galant feel. In the tutti passages the individual voices each have their own vibrant presence, a vocal ensemble rather than a choir. The music is structured like a verse anthem and there are some lovely solo moments. The whole makes a good strong firm sound.

Thomas Tudway
Thomas Tudway
Tudway's I will lift up mine eyes was 'sung to ye Queen at Bath' (the Queen being Queen Anne). It is a large scale tenor solo with short concluding chorus. The soloist sings with a fine sense of line, slim tone with a slight edge to it, and a nice fluidity in the twiddly bits. The overture to Tudway's Hail, Happy Day has been lost so the ensemble perform James Paisible's Sonata in D. In fast-slow-fast form with a lovely bounce in the rhythm. Hail, Happy Day, 'A birthday ode for Queen Anne' was written in 1706 and may have been a form of apology after Tudway was stripped of his titles as Professor of Music at Cambridge University after making disparaging remarks about her. The words are rather trivial (I am minded of Purcell's sequence of Royal odes), but the music is less so. It has a lovely melodic feel with the performers giving it a nice sense of style.

James Hawkins was organist at St John's College, Cambridge, and later at Ely Cathedral. He helped Tudway create the volumes of music for Lord Harley. So here the group includes a fine anthem by Hawkins, Blessed be thou, Lord God of Israel followed by Tudway's large scale Oh how aimiable are thy dwellings, and his Te Deum, both of which were sung at the opening of Wimpole's chapel. Eboracum Baroque performs with a nice sense of style combined with great vibrancy of tone from the singers.

The music on this disc is an intriguing and welcome discovery. Eboracum Baroque has made an enterprising disc, recording relatively unknown music in the venue for which it was written.

The disc can be bought direct from Eboracum Baroque's website.

Thomas Tudway (c1650-1726) - Jubilate 'Wimpole' [8.45]
Thomas Tudway (c1650-1726) - I will lift up mine eyes [7.09]
James Paisibe (c1656-1721) - Sonata in D [4.35]
Thomas Tudway (c1650-1726) - Hail, happy day 'An Ode compossed for the Queen's Birthday' [10.06]
James Hawkins (1662-1729) - Blessed be thou Lord God of Israel [6.16]
Thomas Tudway (c1650-1726) - O how aimiable are thy dwellings [11.33]
Thomas Tudway (c1650-1726) - Te Deum 'Wimpole' [23.55]

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