Fleuri - The Thistle and the Rose

 

Originally conceived as a programme for the Edinburgh Fringe, ‘The Thistle & The Rose’ celebrates the wealth and beauty of folk-inspired music to come out of Scotland and England in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The boundary between folk and art music at this time was often blurred, as composers wove folk melodies into new works, as heard in the delightful Airs for the Seasons, 96 violin sonatas by James Oswald, a Scottish composer who spent much of his life in London.

 

Oswald was born in Fife around 1710 and worked as a dancing master and composer in Dunfermline in his early years, but was soon drawn to London where he ran a publishing house from 1741. Oswald became a member of the secret music society, The Temple of Apollo, under which he published a large number of works alongside otherwise lesser known composers such as John Reid and Charles Burney. Airs for the Seasons is a collection of 96 violin sonatas each under the title of a flower, and then grouped into four sets of sonatas by each season. Most of Oswald’s output had strong traditional Scottish influences which can be heard in his A Curious Collection of Scots Tunes (c.1740) and the Caledonian Pocket Companion, a collection of folk tunes to which he composed variations.

 

Divisions (sets of variations) were written on many popular tunes and bass lines of the day, including Farnaby's ‘Daphne’, ‘Greensleeves to a Ground’, and ‘Tollett's Ground’ - incidentally the only Irish tune to sneak its way into this recording, by virtue of its inclusion in the first part of The Division Flute, an English publication of 1706.

 

Both Edward Johnson’s Pavan and the anonymous Galliard come from Duncan Burnett's music book of about 1615 which is the most significant manuscript of Scottish keyboard music from the period of the great composers for virginals.

 

Duncan Burnett (c. 1615 - 1652) was a Scottish composer from an illustrious family from Leys in Aberdeenshire and for a while was employed by Sir John Maxwell of Polok. He also taught at the Glasgow song-school in the 1630's and a vast amount of his music book would have been significant material for his teaching.

 

His music book contains 23 complete keyboard pieces, decorative song transcriptions and other elaborate and harmonically expressive dance movements. It includes music by Duncan Burnett and settings by him as well as masterpieces by England’s William Byrd and most of the surviving keyboard music of Scotland’s William Kinloch. It also provides vital clues to the political intrigues centred around Mary Queen of Scots and it has consort versions of 16th century Scottish and French part songs and Scottish consort music by John Black and 44 settings of the Proper psalm tunes by Andrew Kemp, possibly intended for use at the Glasgow song school.

 

Giles Farnaby (c. 1563 – 1640) was an English composer and virginalist of the Renaissance and Baroque periods. His cousin Nicholas Farnaby (c.1560 -1630) was a virginal maker, and it is for these instruments that Farnaby is best known. He  is considered one of the great English virginalists, together with William Byrd, John Bull, Orlando Gibbons, Peter Philips and Thomas Tomkins among others.  Farnaby's best known works are included in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book which contains 52 of his pieces including  11 fantasias, a wonderful and technically demanding set of variations called Woody-Cock and short but charming descriptive pieces such as Giles Farnabys DreameHis Rest, Farnabyes Conceit and His Humour. It also includes this stunning setting and elaborate variations of the very famous tune Daphne In addition to his keyboard compositions, Farnaby also composed madrigals, canzonets and psalms.

 

Many collections of traditional songs were made, perhaps most notable among them John Playford's The English Dancing Master and the Scots Musical Museum, compiled by Edinburgh publisher James Johnson and the renowned poet and musician Robert Burns; in addition, new folk songs were still being composed, and new lyrics written to older melodies, such as the hauntingly beautiful ‘Bess and her Spinning Wheel’ and ‘Mary Queen of Scots Lament’. It is testament to its popularity that The English Dancing Master (simply The Dancing Master in later editions) was republished in 18 new editions between 1651 and 1728.

 

Both Scotland and England attracted musicians from the continent, and there is an especially strong connection between Scottish and Italian baroque music, as Italians like Matteis encountered Scots music in Edinburgh and further afield. Links between Scotland and London were also strong, with Scots composers being lured south by the prospect of patronage surrounding the royal court.

 

Composing was, however, by no means the preserve of the ‘professionals’ - Tobias Hume was a soldier with a passion for the viol, and Ignatius Sancho a man of letters and the first black man to vote in England - yet both made valuable contributions to the musical legacy of their times.© 2013 Fleuri

 

*****

 

Fleuri Formed in 2002 at the Royal College of Music, where they were winners of the Century Fund Prize for Early Music. Specialising in the repertoire of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the ensemble’s members share a passion for the music of Handel’s London and folk-inspired baroque music from across the British Isles and Eire. They have given concerts in many historic venues, including Windsor Castle, Handel House and Cobham Hall, Kent, and have appeared in the London Handel Festival, Chester Summer Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe. The Thistle and the Rose remains their most popular programme, and was the natural choice for this, their first full-length CD. To find out more about Fleuri, their programmes and future concerts, please visit their website.

 

Laura Justice graduated from the Royal College of Music with an honours degree in 2002.  She has performed in London venues including St George's, Hanover Square as part of the London Handel Festival, Handel House Museum and St George's, Bloomsbury. Laura plays regularly with chamber group Emerald Baroque, and performed a chamber concerto with the Romanian Baroque Players in St James's, Piccadilly and at venues across Norfolk. She has also played on stage at the London Coliseum with English National Opera in their production of Handel's Xerxes, with BBC National Orchestra of Wales, broadcast on Radio 3, The Philharmonia, Leeds Baroque Orchestra. and Opera North. She has given demonstrations at the Greenwich International Exhibition of Early Music, for The Early Music Shop and recorder maker Stephan Blezinger. Laura currently lives and teaches in Yorkshire where she has also conducted her local Society of Recorder Players branch. She has tutored on the Northern Recorder Course and for Kent Music Summer Schools at Benenden School. In 2011 Laura took over as editor of The Recorder Magazine.

 

After graduating with a first-class honours degree in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Leeds, Jennifer Bullock chose to focus her energies on her musical aspirations, studying modern cello under Lowri Blake at the Royal College of Music, and subsequently viol and baroque cello with Alison Crum and Susan Sheppard at Trinity College of Music, holding scholarships at both institutions. Since completing her studies in 2004, Jennifer has been enjoying a flourishing national and international performing career with both established and emerging ensembles, and as a member of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment has performed in a multitude of venues, including several seasons at the Royal Opera House and Glyndebourne.  Television and radio appearances include programmes for the BBC and Sky Arts, and live performances on BBC Radio 3 and 4; she has recorded CDs with the OAE, The Gabrieli Consort and Players and Emerald Baroque, amongst others.  Jennifer also has a passion for music education, teaching adults and children both privately and in projects with the OAE’s vibrant education department.  She is grateful for the generous support of the Beverly Creed, Etherington and TCM funds, The Drapers’ Company, the Wolfson Foundation and the Loan Fund for Musical Instruments.

 

Bridget Cunningham is a prizewinning harpsichordist, versatile conductor and leading exponent of early music and historical performance who plays and has presented on several TV and Radio shows. She conducts the exciting London Early Opera (LEO), Handel House Harmonies, Emerald Baroque and the Schola Pietatis Antonio Vivaldi and has played for the London Handel Orchestra, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Irish Chamber Orchestra and Fleuri. She has also recently performed as a solo harpsichordist for Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace. Performances and conducting have been featured on ITV, Sky Arts, RTE, RTP 2 and BBC TV and Radio including Woman's Hour, Front Row and the recent King James's Bible series on Radio 4. She is a Yeoman of the Worshipful Company of Musicians and was supported as a Fellow of the Royal College of Music to work in the Centre for Performance History and work as a baroque vocal coach, where she became an artist for the Concordia Foundation. The Finzi trust awarded her a scholarship to study early Irish music and Handel's visit to Dublin which enabled her to record 'Ireland's Enchantment ' and her first solo harpsichord CD 'Handel in Ireland' which is now available. She has recorded the music for BBC documentaries including 'Vivaldi's Women', 'Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen', 'How London Was Built' and BBC2 's 'Messiah'. Bridget has recorded for other films, including those in the USA. She has worked with several jazz musicians including a birthday party for Dave Brubeck and modern contemporary choirs and orchestras.

 

Instruments used on this recording:

Transitional soprano recorder in C by Tom Prescott Tracks 14, 27

Baroque soprano recorder in C after Denner by Moeck Track 15

Fourth flute in Bb after Bressan by Tim Cranmore Track16

Alto recorder in F after Denner by Von Huene Tracks 21, 23

Voice flute in D after Bressan by Stephan Blezinger Tracks 1-6, 9-10, 24-26