Friday 16 February 2018

Music in a Cold Climate

Music in a Cold Climate - Gawain Glenton, In Echo - Delphian
Music in a Cold Climate: the sounds of Hansa Europe; Gawain Glenton, In Echo; Delphian
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on Feb 13 2018 Star rating: 3.5
Illuminating the shared musical culture which crossed the sea routes of Hansa Europe

Until the late 17th century, the Hanseatic League was an important trade linkage in Northern Europe and the resulting sea routes provided cultural as well as mercantile links. So a flow of composers and their music travelled the seas. Music in a Cold Climate: sounds of Hansa Europe, from cornetto player Gawain Glenton and his group In Echo on Delphian, explores the music which was crossing the sea routes during the 17th century with pieces by Nicolaus a Kempis, William Brade, Antonio Bertali, Heinrich Albert, Johann Sommer,  Thomas Baltzar, Dietrich Becker, Melchior Schildt, Antony Holborn, Johann Staden, Johann Schop plus a new work, Andrew Keeling's Northern Soul which was written in 2016 for Gawain Glenton and In Echo.

Some of the composers featured on the disc travelled and found employment ate the other end of a sea route. Violin virtuoso Thomas Baltzar travelled from Lübeck to London. Both William Brade and John Dowland found employment at the court of King Christian IV of Denmark, as did Melchior Schildt and Johann Schop. Brade and Schop both left Copenhagen to avoid the plague and both would end up in Hamburg. Hamburg-based Dietrich Becker travelled both to Sweden and other German towns like Lübeck. The 30 years war inevitably caused probems and Heinrich Albert would be held captive by Swedish soldiers for a year.

Gawain Glenton & In Echo
Gawain Glenton & In Echo
But not just musicians travelled, their music did too. Trade routes meant that music by Brussels born Nicolaus a Kempis, Italian-born Vienna-based Antonio Bertali, Nuremberg-based Johann Staden and Anthony Holborne all found its way along the sea routes, thus creating a sense of common culture. Publications like Christian Hildebrant's 1607 collection Ausslesener Paduannen & Galliarden Erster Theil display this sense of shared culture and the way music moved around the sea ways, with Hildebrant's publication including a wide range of composers.

The eight instrumentalists play a total of nine different instruments, and these are employed in a variety of different combinations ranging from solos by Bojan Cicic (violin) and Silas Wollston (harpsichord) through to ensembles of six players, though we never hear all eight together. Rather impressively, the organ used is a copy of an English organ of the period rather than the usual small scale portable organ. The result is to provide a lovely tapestry of textures and timbres. There is a nice chamber feel to the playing, whatever the combination of instruments we get real dialogue and Gawain Glenton's sophisticated cornetto playing never dominates.

Andrew Keeling's Northern Soul, whilst perhaps not strictly linked to the theme of the disc, provides a lovely contrasing work with inventive use of the period instruments in modern context.

Many of the composers on this disc were new to me and I suspect will be new to many people. The styles of music vary from the fashionable melancholy to lively, folk and dance inspired pieces. A varied mix. We tend to forget how important the sea routes of the North Sea and Baltic Sea were, and this lovely disc provides an illuminating window on the shared musical culture which was created in the 17th century.

Nicolaus a Kempis (1600 - 1675) - Symphony à 4 No. 1, Op. 1202 - 53
William Brade (1560 - 1630) - Der heilig Berg; Peggy Bell; Ein Schottisch Tanz
Antonio Bertali (1605 - 1669) - Sonata à 4 in D Minor
Heinrich Albert (1604 - 1651) - Das Lied ist hier
Johann Sommer (1542 - 1574) - Susanna paduanna
Thomas Baltzar (1631 - 1663) - Prelude; Divisions on John Come Kiss Me Now
Dietrich Becker (1623 - 1679) - Sonata à 2
Melchior Schildt (1592 - 1667) - Paduana Lachrymae (After J. Dowland)
Antony Holborne (1545 - 1602) - Image of Melancholly
Andrew Keeling - Northern Soul
Johann Sommer (1542 - 1574) - Der 8, Psalm
Johann Staden (1581 - 1634) - Sonata 31 à 4
Johann Schop (1590 - 1667) - Lachrimae Pavan

Gawain Glenton (cornetto, mute cornetto) In Echo
Recorded 1-3 Feb 2017, Romsey Abbey, Hampshire
DELPHIAN DCD34206 1CD [67.32]
Available from Amazon.

Elsewhere on this blog:
  • Spices! Perfumes! Toxins! Approachably melodic percussion concerto - CD review - CD review (***)
  • A Triptych: Irrational Theatre at the King's Head - Opera review (***)
  • Topsy-turvy fun: Cal McCrystal directs G&S's Iolanthe - Opera review (*****)
  • Old-fashioned passion: Benjamin Godard's Dante - CD review
  • Korngold's Die tote Stadti at the Semperoper in Dresden - Opera review (****)
  • Powerful stuff: Verdi's La forza del Destino in Cardiff - Opera review (****)
  • A Portrait: composer Dai Fujikura introduces the music at the forthcoming Wigmore Hall concert  - my interview
  • Wagner Der Ring des Nibelungen - Willy Decker's production at the Semperoper, Dresden - opera review
  • A Heine songbook - Robin Tritschler and Christopher Glynn - concert review
  • Intimate and finely judged: Orlando Gibbons complete consort anthems   - CD review
  • Giovanni Croce revealed - motetti & cantiones sacrae - CD review
  • 'You still have to make the right line' - Michael Finnissy day at St John's College, Cambridge  - feature article
  • Singing to create a national identity: the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir - concert review
  • Home

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